To Love the Unlovable

There is a curious concept scattered throughout Scripture.  Jesus tells His disciples to love the unlovable.   Right there, sitting on the mount looking at the disciples, He tells them to love those who possibly will never love them back.  This is kingdom of God 101.

I always thought I knew what that meant.  I know exegetically how the verses breaks down, how the context shows who the unlovable is, how His audience plays a part.  However, I never had someone placed in my life that was extremely difficult to love.  I have never truly come across someone who tested my patience so much that I thought I hope they dont like this church so they can go somewhere else.

So do I really know what it means to love the unlovable?  Can I be honest here?

I would argue that I am clueless. I give off the air that I understand but truly, I have no idea.

There is a man who has been coming to my host family’s MC (Missional Community which is a small group of Christians, living like family, who are committed to living life on mission in reaching their context for the glory of Jesus Christ.)  He is 65 years old, single, and has a few quirks.  Oh, and he is blind.  Let’s call him Jarvis.  (I know Jarvis is the name of the computer from Iron Man, but that honestly was the first name that came to mind–just shows you how my mind works.)

Jarvis has been blind since birth.  Therefore, he has never seen anything.  He dresses in multiple layers of windbreaker gear with a reflector jacket resting like a bullet proof vest.  Holstered to his side is a case for his walking stick and with him he has a weathered backpack.  His pockets are full of change, buttons, tobacco, and a pipe.  He is incredibly organized so that he can find what he needs.  He lives the life of a blind man.

He started coming to our MC within the last six weeks.

All of that sounds fine.  Chris, why do you give Jarvis as the example of loving the unlovable?  Because Jarvis has been so jaded and hardened he can be short and rude with people.

It is really easy for me to love a blind guy who needs help.  It is obvious in that moment what I am to do.  I need to help him.  In my mind, this blind guy would be humble and is very polite.  He would say things like thank you for walking me up the stairs or could you lead me to the restroom.  I would be built up and my savior complex would be fed.  Would it not be easy to love the blind guy who is nicer than Bozo the clown and Santa Clause rolled into one?

But what about Jarvis? He does not fall into that category.  He is generally a nice guy, do not get me wrong, but there are many times where he gets frustrated and acts out of that frustration.

If someone has to suddenly walk away to take care of their kid, Jarvis impatiently yells and sternly says you CANT walk away like that.  Or today, he threw cherry seeds at a new attendee because the new attendee made a mistake in helping him.  He can be intolerant and downright rude of the other members of the MC family.

During discussion or when someone is sharing their testimony he will suddenly interrupt speak up! I can’t hear you!

It just is not what you would expect of a blind man.

And it would be really easy for me to write him off as a lost cause. But when I sat down to talk with him I learned a little bit about his story.  Born blind, Jarvis had to teach himself everything.  From learning to get around the bathroom to making himself dinner to walking down the street to the local coffee house, he had to learn how to fully function without anyone’s help.  And the church has not helped him.  While he yearns to be independent he still desires community.  He just does not want to be babied.  He does not want to be that blind guy that people have pity on.

At church he has been marginalized and cast aside.  If he attended a Sunday service, he was placed separated from everyone else. If he wanted to tithe in worship, he was refused. This resulted in a lot of bitterness.

So here he comes to our little MC. We have no idea how to care for him. He wants a church family. He wants to be loved, though he would not say it like that.

So what do we do? It would be much easier to tell him of 6 other churches and point him away from our gathering.  There are 100 other possibilities that would be easier. But the question boils down to, is Jarvis one of the unlovable image bearers of God that Jesus calls us Christians to love?

You already know the answer. It takes a while for it to sink into my head though.

It is easy for me to love the polite blind guy.  It is easy for me to love the guy who is nice, grateful, and maybe has some problems but they don’t really inconvenience me.   But I am called to love people that are the opposite of those traits.

I am called to love Jarvis. I am called to like Jarvis.

I am called to love Jarvis because in the Gospel, I am a blind fool given eyes.  They’re not even my eyes.  While I was the most unlovable little wretch Christ came, perfectly lived, died, rose, and ascended.  My blind eyes were opened and He has allowed me to see the richness of His glorious grace.

So how hypocritical would it be for me to cast Jarvis aside because he acts like a blind man inside and out?  God in His love drew near to me.  Because He did that with me (and constantly draws near to me) He invites me to participate in showing family to Jarvis.  I will beg God for Jarvis’ heart.

So it has been incredible getting to know him.  He has shown me how truly blind I was.  He has shown me what it means to be patient.  I am so glad that he walked into our MC.  Has it been difficult at times? Certainly.  But in those difficulties God exposes my true idol ridden heart and brings the church family together.

LORD, forgive me for helping Jarvis expecting to gain something in return.  Forgive me for trying to feed my superiority complex.  Forgive me for trying to BE Jesus to this man instead of allowing you to BE YOU to this man through me.  You brought him to us for your glory and our joy.  Allow me to readily remember that in the Gospel I have your approval and need not seek it through good works.  Allow me to remember that you created him in your image and therefore he bears dignity, value, and worth.  He is not unlovable in your eyes.  Show me, give me the heart, how lovable he truly is.

I’m still learning Kingdom of God 101.

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Posted in Newsletter, Soma Internship
4 comments on “To Love the Unlovable
  1. Jim says:

    Chris, neat blog. Tender observations. Time will test. I really like and appreciate your heart…and even when you share your heart, the “teacher” spills out.

    I do have a question that I’ll drop into a message though.

    Jim

    • Chris Lash says:

      Thank you for the encouragement and the message you sent about amending some of the word usage in my post. It is encouraging to know that there are guys who will look out for me. It allows me to feel freer.
      It is always an honor that you keep reading and commenting though I only hung out with you for two weeks last year. Gotta love the Gospel baby!

      Chris.

  2. Derek Hiebert says:

    Chris,

    Thank you for being very honest and vulnerable about how you feel about ‘Jarvis’. I definitely relate and feel the same things, and, unfortunately, believe the lies about people like him. We’re all learning as a community to love the unlovable, and I believe the only way we will truly and authentically be able to do that is by constantly believing the gospel that God in Christ loved us when we were unlovable, and as well in spite of anything good we were trying to do to earn his love. Thanks for sharing heart, bro, and for your writing. I agree with the post above – the ‘teacher’ is spilling out. : )

    Derek

    • Chris Lash says:

      Yeah! Being here in WA and participating in Soma has been a Gospel bootcamp for me. Seeing that it applies to everything and how it changes my heart has been HUGE. One of the things that has been revealed to me is that I am constantly needing to repent of why I care for people. Often it is to earn God’s favor or to bolster my pride. So that has been earth shattering and trajectory re-setting.
      Thanks again Derek for commenting and encouraging me in this.

      Chris.

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