One of the best things about God is His unconditional love.
He’s like the ultimate parent. We don’t have to earn His affection because He gives it freely. Jesus paid the debt for our sins to make that possible. He also set an example that we should all strive to follow: loving the unlovable.
Not only did Jesus reach out to outcasts in His lifetime, but He also died for their sins. He didn’t just give His life for the most popular or deserving Christians. His sacrifice covers literally everyone. There are many biblical examples of how He reached out to those who others shunned, from having dinner with tax collectors and other sinners to embracing Mary Magdalene.
We can’t be the hands and feet of Jesus if we pick and choose who we treat with love. Instead, we should make an extra effort to reach out to those who are looked down upon by society.
How to Find Love in Your Heart
Often, we find certain people unlovable because we judge them. Our judgment might be based on fact, or it might simply be a guess.
For example, we might be disgusted by a relative who jumps from job to job and expects family members help him in between, even though he always seems to have money for beer. We might turn away from the ragged, dirty woman who sits on the corner, muttering angrily, every morning. It’s easy to think, “Why don’t they help themselves? They can turn their lives around if they choose to do so. They’re not my responsibility.”
That snap judgment takes away our guilt at not giving them love, but it doesn’t acknowledge their full story. Perhaps we don’t see that our relative is suffering from depression and self-medicating with alcohol because he can’t face an abusive past. He keeps sabotaging himself because his father constantly told him he’d never amount to anything and beat those words into his hide. The disgust of other family members simply reinforces his belief.
The woman on the corner could be mentally ill, with no family or friends to care about her. She has no home and no way to bathe regularly, and the ragged clothes are all she can manage to get in her fleeting lucid moments.
Think about the Back Story
When you think about the back story that made someone become unlovable, you’ll feel more compassion in your heart. You may not know the person’s actual back story, but imagine the possibilities instead of instantly judging. Remember the parable in Matthew:
‘For I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in, I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’’ —Matthew 25:35-40
The Most Unlovable People Need Love the Most
Of course, some people are unlovable because that’s just the way they are. There are plenty of examples in fiction, like Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. He seems to be mean and cruel simply because he likes to be that way. He’d love to see a good man ruined and unjustly sent to prison because that man wouldn’t go to work for him. He sees the townsfolk not as people, but as ways to make his bank account fatter.
Surely Potter and his real life counterparts don’t deserve any love, right? Surely it’s okay to revile them. That’s our automatic reaction, but it’s not the one Jesus would endorse.
The people who act the worst are often those who hurt the most inside. We don’t have to agree with what they do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feel compassion because we know how much they’re missing out on in life. We can love them as fellow human beings, just as God loves them, even if we hate their actions.
God doesn’t put strings on His unconditional love, but that doesn’t mean we should take advantage of that fact. Instead, we should use Him as an example and spread love to others, whether they deserve it or not.