Twice a week we host different groups from church in our home.  I’m always inside scurrying to get things cleaned up and then hosting, so I don’t often think about what it looks like from the outside—until my neighbor mentioned it one day.  Through her thick Ukranian accent she said, “Every time I look outside there are cars at Anita and David’s!  All the time they are having parties!  They are party animals!”

On one hand, this was so humorous to me, but then I realized the irony of it.  And sadness of it.  Our home is where we gather Christians to dig deeper into His word and in relationship to Jesus and each other, but how shamefully we fail to reach out to our neighbors.

It’s almost as if we have our home’s doors locked shut to the outside rather than opened for neighbors to come on in and stay awhile.

Recently we talked at church about the environments of our church, homes, and hearts:  the foyer, living room, and kitchen.  Since much of what I do is attempt to make our house a home and a sanctuary from the world, this has really resonated with me.  But I’ve started to think more about how I can make our home a sanctuary for the world, or at least for some in my corner of the world.

Matthew 5:1 says,  “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”  

I’m reminded again how we have the answer to what the world yearns for and unknowingly seeks—Jesus.  And it’s in the darkest dark where the light shines brightest, which seems about right now.

So, I’ve got some house cleaning to do, so to speak, so I can shine some Light a little brighter.

The foyers of my home and heart need facelifts.  Simply that—more smiling. Who wants to engage with a preoccupied, too worried, unsmiling face?  We get our heads so buried in our phones or mental checklists that it debilitates us from connecting with those around us.  The people at the bank, Target, or Starbuck’s are relationships that can lead to a connection with Jesus.  But in order to share the joy of Jesus, we have to look up, smile, ask some questions and really listen to the human across the counter.

The living room can be a little tougher to spruce up.  It requires we invite people inside to come sit on the couch that’s a little lumpy and stay for awhile next to the walls that have paint chipped in the pretty color.  We may struggle with this because our “living room” isn’t as pristine as someone else’s.  But that’s actually what most people are looking for, the cozy spot where they can sink in and stay awhile.  No one wants the couch covered in plastic.  Off with the protective veneers.  Let’s just experience life and sit in places that are real, stained, and exposing some holes.   There’s truly a comfort about being in such places together.

The kitchen in my home, and the one in my heart, can be very possessive places for me.  The “kitchen” is my hub and oftentimes I feel quite capable all by myself in there, without any input from anyone else. But when others join me in that small space, they start to add in a little of their “ingredient” to the mix of my life.  Sometimes it’s pleasant and other times it can pack a punch, yet in the end, it’s always of benefit to the wholeness that’s being created there.

Let’s face it, no one has time for all this preparation.  So, we have to make time.  For most of us that means saying no to some good things to make room for the best things.

We are the city on a hill.  In our individual homes and hearts, we are lighthouses pointing the world in darkness to the Light of the World—Jesus.

There may be no better time than now, the upcoming holidays, for opening the door wide and inviting people to come have a seat and stay awhile.   For we have the best Gift in the world to share this Christmas.  Imagine if they never got the opportunity to know about it.

Maybe one day we won’t just live next door to people we only know on the surface, but we will stand beside them in church and then be seated next to them at the banquet table in our Father’s House!  Now, that is a party I want to enjoy for eternity!

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.

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