Sunday, October 21, 2012

Appropriately Loving the "Unlovable"

Some people are easier to love than others. Our family and friends are easy, usually. The elderly, children, the disabled maybe less so, but not by much (if at all). You know the "Ouch!" is coming ... wait for it ...
Jesus didn't say to love most of our neighbors, or that certain people are exceptions to His command. If Jesus died for a person - and we know He did, regardless of the person - we are to love that person. There's no escape hatch. That command includes people in the custody of the justice system. That command includes people who are destroying themselves - drugs, drinking and more. That command includes the "monsters" of our time (seriously, if Paul had a chance to preach to Nero, do you think he would said, "No! You aren't worthy!").
Obviously, some of that is hypothetical. How many Christians are likely to come face to face with Bashir Assad of Syria or Kim III of Korea? But it means that we should bring practical love to “unlovable” people with whom we do have contact and opportunity. And it means that we should pray for the monstrous, that their destructiveness would be overcome, of course, but also that God would change their hearts. Along those latter lines, God's had some “kids” whose BC lives were pretty monstrous.
Loving at a distance is relatively easy (though not necessarily without value) – good feelings, maybe a contribution to a relevant charity. It's when the “unlovable” person(s) are nearby or friends/family where it gets tough. Then it means giving time. It can mean giving money or things to that person. It can mean rubbing elbows with that person, when they are being self-destructive or ungrateful or just generally abrasive and sharp-elbowed. It means loving intelligently, a 5-gallon bucket of worms. Does intelligent love mean bailing some one out of a problem? Or might intelligent love mean letting that person experience the consequences of self-destructiveness, and “being there” for them as they walk through it? To ask is to answer … yes, and we will always be making those choices with our limited understanding.

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