Don’t Despise the Faithful Innkeeper

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Don’t Despise the Faithful Innkeeper

  Christmas is ahead of us, and I feel like I need to speak out on a very important issue. It’s time for this “War on Christmas” to be over. No, I’m not talking about keeping Christ in Christmas, (or, if you will, keeping the X in Xmas.) It is time to stop despising the innkeeper in the Christmas story. Christians everywhere spend the weeks leading up to Christmas doing three things:

  1. Teaching children to celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday. (Cue a rendition of “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”)
  2. Bemoaning the commercialization of the holiday, while simultaneously driving all over town looking for the perfect gift for every child, cousin, and uncle.
  3. Making the innkeeper — who sent Jesus’ parents to some dirty, stank (which is worse than “stinky”) stable — seem like the original Scrooge.

(And while we are on that topic, why is being called a Scrooge such a bad thing? He changed, people! Show some grace!)   To the Innkeeper’s Defense Over the next few weeks, you’ll probably see a church sign that reads, “IS THERE ROOM FOR JESUS IN YOUR INN?” The implication is that the innkeeper rejected Jesus, and you shouldn’t make his mistake. The first time I saw this sign, I thought, “Whoa! I don’t even own an inn. Do I need to build an inn and always keep a free room available, in case someone shows up claiming to be Jesus? I mean, he might be some vagabond, but Collin Raye already warned me what if Jesus came back like that. Instead of an inn, can we just add a guest room to our house? I promise I won’t turn it into a man cave. Wait, would Jesus want a man cave? Probably. I think I read that in a John Eldredge book.” (Note to reader: Yes, it is that exhausting being in my brain.) So, this innkeeper (who isn’t even mentioned in the one verse which alludes to him – Luke 2:7) now has a bad rap. Everyone blames him for Jesus being born in a stable. I feel like someone needs to come to this guy’s side. That’s where we can help, because if I was that guy, I would totally get defensive. I’d justify myself, saying things like:

  1. “Did Joseph make a reservation? Because unlike Seinfeld’s car rental experience, I take and hold every reservation.”
  2. “I did make room for them. In the stable. Sure, it was stank, but I at least did that much.”
  3. “Was I supposed to kick another guest out of his room? What if the guest I kicked out was the Messiah? I can’t win!”
  4. “God knew that was going to happen. Blame Him.”
  5. “Being in the stable made it easier for the shepherds to find them. What if the angels told them, ‘You’ll find the baby in an inn.’ That would not have narrowed it down. Instead, they got to say, ‘You’ll find the baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.’  How clear and direct was that?”
  6. “Did you hear about what that guy Judas did? Or Peter? Betrayal and denial are much worse than ignorance, right?”

  Are You an Innkeeper? As a parent, you sometimes feel like an overworked, overstressed innkeeper, and the “Christmas” season doesn’t help. Commercials make you feel guilty about all the things you are not buying your children. You feel the pressure from school teachers now that the semester is coming to an end, and your child is slacking a little. You carry the expectation to host family and friends for the holidays, and to accept every invitation. And all the while, your children expect you to cook, clean, and carry them from one event to another. You feel like an overlooked and often-blamed servant. In your mind, you know that Christmas is all about Jesus, and you also want to make it special for your children. But in the back of your head, you wonder, What about me? Where am I in all of this? I’ll tell you where you are:  You are right where God wants you. Like the innkeeper, you have a role to play, even if you don’t get to be the glamorous hero. You may not receive accolades, but you will be rewarded in His timing. Keep serving others. Keep discipling your children. Keep being faithful if you to His call for you. But most of all, keep trusting that God sees you and is with you, no matter what role he has for you in this season. Especially if you feel like a simple innkeeper.  

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”  Galatians 6:9


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