If you’ve ever had your house on the market you know that you have to keep it in order and looking a particular way. An unrealistic way. No clutter, no mess, no dishes, no pets, no pictures, no dust balls, no unmade beds, etc. Each time I would prepare my house for a showing I grew a little irritated, that I had to present my home in a way that wasn’t real. People live here. Pets live here. Breakfast was just eaten, diapers were just changed, and little people were busy making messes. It was a home but I had to make it look like a house. One with perfect kids with perfect rooms with perfect hygiene. Because that’s what home shoppers wanted. They want a flawless home that had flawless previous owners. Or at least the illusion of that. And so I played the game. I tidied closets, hid our junk in the garage, swept up dust bunnies every day, hid the dog bowls, lit candles to hide the scent of baby poop, and would leave the house feeling a little like a liar.
Upon some reflection, I think I was bothered by doing this because it is a picture of what I tend to do in my spiritual life. Like showing a home, my tendency is to clean up my act, hide the stuff that isn’t pretty and make myself appear presentable to other Christians and God with my spiritual resume. It’s an exhausting game to play and Jesus wants no part of it (Luke 11:39).
Because of grace, I don’t have to clean up and hide the junk. I’m free to have clutter to deal with, dust in corners of my heart, and sometimes just a really stinky room. Jesus wants us to have open doors and open windows, freely admitting that we are messy. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Jesus wants us as we are. We can only be free and joyful in our walk with him when we realize this.
As I look around my home right now, at the toys scattered on the floor, the pile of junk to be sorted next to the couch, the dirty dishes in the sink and the unseen pile of boxes to be unpacked in the storage area, I am thankful that Jesus wants a home not a house. He doesn’t want a cleaned up version of ourselves. He wants us as we are, mess and all.