“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in cloths,
and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
– Luke 2:7
As a little girl, every time I heard this verse read on Christmas Eve, I felt appalled. Who wouldn’t make room for Mary and Joseph? Who could possibly turn them away? I always liked to think that if I was an innkeeper 2,000 years ago that I would have welcomed Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus with open arms. Yet, my adult self knows that I probably wouldn’t have.
So, how do we continuously turn Jesus away?
We turn Jesus away when exclude the “nerdy” or “weird” guy from our lunch table.
We turn Jesus away when we pass the homeless woman on the street, thinking she’s lazy.
Jesus gets turned away when a pregnant woman gets fired from her teaching job because she is not married. (Think of how horribly we would treat Mary today.)
Jesus gets turned away when gay and lesbian couples who love one another are refused a marriage license.
Jesus gets turned away when a police officer uses excessive force on a person because of the color of his skin.
We turn Jesus away when we gossip about a colleague behind her back.
Jesus gets turned away when we make fun of someone who is mentally or physically disabled.
Jesus gets turned away when our schools and workplaces are not welcoming toward women and persons of color.
Jesus gets turned away when we approach persons struggling with mental illness with judgment, instead of compassion.
Jesus gets turned away when we ignore sexual assault, and blame the woman by calling her a “slut” or “whore.” (Jesus also gets turned away when we dismiss the fact that issues like sexual assault, domestic violence, and eating disorders also affect men).
Jesus gets turned away when we place limitations on people and expect them to act a certain way based on the gender they were assigned at birth, rather than letting them be who they are.
Jesus gets turned away when we mistreat an animal.
We turn Jesus away when we take out our phone instead of talking to our mother, father, or friend who is sitting across from us.
We turn Jesus away when we focus too much on gaining accolades and being the best in our field instead of helping people.
We turn Jesus away when we spend too much time worrying about having the latest gadgets and not enough time telling those around us that we love them.
Jesus gets turned away when we make disparaging remarks about another person’s body, calling them out for being “too fat” or “too skinny.”
We turn Jesus away when we post pictures on Facebook knowing they may hurt someone who was excluded from our night out.
Jesus gets turned away when we degrade a woman wearing a hijab, instead of seeking to learn more about her religion.
Jesus gets turned away when cases of sexual abuse by priests are covered up by those in authority.
Jesus gets turned away when Democrats and Republicans attack one another instead of trying to work together and respecting each other as human beings with different political opinions.
We turn Jesus away whenever we think we have all the answers, and fail to listen to and learn from different cultures, religions, and experiences.
It’s 2015. Jesus has still not been made welcome in our world. Welcoming Jesus is going to take more than just signing declarations and supporting causes on Facebook, it’s going to take changing our day-to-day interactions with God’s people. It is not going to be easy either. We may get condemned for welcoming Jesus from members of our family, our friends, our co-workers, and even our religious leaders. But what do you say? Let’s work on making more room for Jesus in our lives this year. Jesus is present in every single person—we just need to take the opportunity to find him and open our hearts to him. How about making 2015 the year that we say YES when Jesus comes knocking?