“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
I’ve been meditating on this verse as Advent is now upon us. I’ve lit a candle and placed in on my kitchen table to remind me of the light that is about to enter the world. I’ve tried to allow for holy pauses amidst the potty-training, cleaning, and Gilmore Girls marathons.
These words echo in my mind as I let the truth wash over me, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Of whom I am the foremost.
In my faith, I tend to stop at the word “sinners.” How marvelous that His death replaced the need for “sinners” to die. How great that He would offer up a precious sacrifice for those nasty “sinners.” How gracious and merciful is the God that we serve, that He would stick His neck out for “sinners.”
The beauty of the Gospel is that it is personal. He saves me daily. Me – His child, His servant, His royal priesthood, His sinner. And not just any sinner, His foremost sinner.
This too is trustworthy and deserving and well-worth remembering. One, because it humbles me to see that my flesh is truly base without him. Two, because it makes His grace all the more lovely. And three, because it gives me a reason to open my door and welcome lesser sinners (if I am truly the foremost) to join with me in my anticipation of a High King. It gives me the courage to experience an open-door Advent.
An open door. This is what Mary and Joseph received as they frantically searched for a place to give birth to their baby in Bethlehem. Their last hope was found at the end of a long line of closed doors. No room for lesser sinners. But there was room in a dirty stable. The hospitality of a foremost sinner welcomed the frightened couple into his humble home, allowing them to see his mess, acknowledging that hospitality is more than glitz and glamour.
An open door. This is what my heart stretches to be as we timidly begin the work of living front porch lives in a back porch world. This is what my soul longs for as I invite neighbors to stay longer than just “dropping by,” praying that my two small loaves would multiply in time for dinner. This is what I hope for as I courageously drop the laundry to welcome others into my home to see my stacks of clothes, and toys, and mess.
There’s something beautiful when a friend lets me into her mess without a care or an apology. I want to be like that. I want my hospitality to have depth beyond how I set my table and how many fresh flowers I have offering fragrance. I want to open the door to my heart and my home and let others in to see that I, the foremost sinner, have been rescued by a light that shines brighter than the biggest mess. I, the foremost sinner, have hope and I can’t keep it for myself. I won’t keep it for myself.
You see, Advent is meant to open doors.