“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
A few years ago my sister and I got the chance to visit the Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris, France. Pictures do not do this place justice. Built in the mid-1600’s for Louis XIV (The Sun King), Versailles is the very definition of ‘excess’. From the elaborate ‘Hall of Mirrors’ to the dozens of glorious fountains, the palace has enough gilt, granite and grandeur to make Las Vegas look like an Amish village. If there were an Olympics for Overindulgence, Versailles would win every event.
But while on the tour, another tourist asked where the king’s guests stayed. We’d seen ballroom after ballroom, but no accommodations. I’ll always remember what the guide said. “The guests, they stayed upstairs,” she said with a lovely French lilt. “But the rooms are small and dark—not worth seeing. The Sun King made his palace for big, grand parties, but he used up so much space that there was no room left for the people.”
Think about that. King Louis was so focused on building a splendid palace that he left no room for the people he was building the palace for.
The Apostle Paul talks about our bodies being temples for the Holy Spirit, but I think part of that is making space for people in our hearts. And that, for me, is the hardest thing about being a Christian—making room for people. And not just for the worthy ones, but for the gypsies as well.
If God is about anything, He’s about Community, in all its painful, messy glory. Christ—who was Himself a palace a hundred times grander than Versailles—threw open His heart for every thief and low life in Judea. They raided His wine cellar. They tracked muddy footprints across His marble floors. They stole the cutlery. And I don’t even what to think what they did to the fine china.
But Christ didn’t want a palace built of marble and gold—He wanted one founded on repentance, love and forgiveness. Without people (or, more specifically, without unworthy people) those amazing things do not happen.
God doesn’t want us to allow people to abuse us, but He does want us to give them a chance. He wants us to make room for people in our hearts, whether they be well-mannered courtiers or unruly gypsies. Like Christ, we should throw open our palace doors to the rulers and rabble alike, whether they deserve it or not. You never know—you might be the only welcoming place these souls ever get in their lives.
And Jesus can always replace the cutlery.