Oh, that fateful night when there was no room left at the inn. The Bible does not tell us the length of time that it took Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem for the census. If they joined a caravan, which would have been likely, it probably took them about 4 days. Some speculate that it may have taken longer since Mary was nine months pregnant, but that is not very likely since it would have been dangerous to leave the caravan. Regardless of the time, they arrived at Bethlehem and found no room for them at the inn, thus they stayed at the stables instead.
In that humble circumstance, the Lord of the universe was made flesh that very night in that place. Our Lamb, born in a stable, likely in the spring time when other young ewes, came into being. Perfect, free of the sins of the generations, God came forth to begin the life that would end on a cross about 30 years later in the nearby Jerusalem. There was no room left in the inn for such a baby as Him. We are there again.
The New Exodus
According to a recent poll, the results published on Christian Today in October, teenagers and young adults are leaving the church at startling rates. The poll showed over 60% of young adults will leave the church either permanently or for an extended period of time. Among the common reason for kids leaving: God was missing from the teaching. Youth groups and other programs have begun excluding God or at the least, provided little more than lip service to the Creator of the Universe.
Far from ending with youth, adults are progressively seeing church as more of a social club than a place of worship and growth. The messages become softer to appeal to ‘guests’ and the people of God are often left without direction or spiritual guidance on the matters of life. Again, God is often left out of the mix in exchange for pragmatic business approaches that assure numbers, even if transient ones.
Let God Back In
What is the cure? How do we truly serve God at such a time as this? I have a few ideas formulated from my struggles to understand Him in the light of my former life.
Renewed Interest in the Word of God – Let us wake up (Ephesians 5:14)! We need to focus both our personal lives and the life of the church programs with the Word of God. Some people do not care for structured church programs. I have been in churches with them and without. I can say assuredly at the presence or absence of church programs is really a neutral issue as long as the Word is at the center of the people’s lives. If our church is programs-based, petition the leaders to left God back in, and He does not speak any louder than His written Word.
Personally Engage the Scriptures – A recent Barna poll for the American Bible Association showed that only about 1 in 5 Christians actually read their Bible on regular occasion even though most of the professing Christians believe that the Bible is very important for life. It is very difficult to renew our minds when we do not engage in the Bible. Jesus reminds us to remain in Him and His word (John 15:1-11). By contrast, however, many Christians are well versed in gaming, sports, movies, and other means of entertainment. To be sure, we need some form of hobby or enjoyment in our world, and I certainly do not recommend spending every waking moment in Bible study, but we need to know the Word of God, otherwise, we are telling the world to live by a standard that we, ourselves, simply do not understand.
Let the Scriptures Change Us - Paul instructs us to transform our lives by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2). Matthew 7 reminds us that it is those that do the will of the father that will be saved, but I submit that it is hard to do His will when we do not read His words. But we cannot stop there. We need to transformed. We need to take the words of the Bible to our heart and act upon them. Ephesians has some excellent, easy to follow steps: Stop stealing, speak kindly, be patient, and more. Have you mediated on these and sought to apply them to your life? Psalm 119 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By hiding Your Word in my heart.” The entire Psalm is about living by the commands of God, something that we must first be engaged with the Word to do. Be transformed.
Living by Faith – Walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are on this earth for only a small amount of time. We need to balance what our call from the Lord is with the rest of our life. We need to have some down-time, recreation is a word meaning to re-create. But as John Maxwell once noted, “In order to take a break, you need to do something first.” Our primary mission on this earth is to determine the work that the Lord redeemed us for (Ephesians 2:10) and set about to do that. If you know what you are here for, great! Get along with it. If you are unsure, then spend the next year dedicating yourself to finding your calling. Remember to seek first God’s righteousness so that all your needs will be provided to you by Him (Matthew 6:25-34). Give God a place at the inn in your heart. If you have not been placing the Bible at a prominent place in your heart, give God the first fruits of your mornings in the Word and prayer for a month and see if it does not bless your soul. Seek to transform your world for the savior that purchased you with His blood.