Love Those Hard to Love
The author/evangelist Luke collected Jesus' three famous "Parables of Lost" in chapter 15 of his Gospel. We tend to focus on the enormous love of the main characters to their subjects, be it a sheep, a silver coin, or a son. Though it is absolutely correct as Jesus' point was to emphasize on God's love toward us, I would like to reflect from a different perspective.
We need to pay attention to the context of why Jesus gave the three parables. Verse 1 to 3 says that Jesus told the three parables in response to the complaint from the Pharisees and scribes about him welcoming tax collectors and sinners. They did have their point from the view of Judaism. Didn't Psalm 1 teaches not to "walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers?" (NIV) Why then did Jesus allow tax collectors, which considered great sinners by Jewish people back then, and the other sinners in His company?
If we read the teachings about sinners, (collectively, mockers and wicked people are called sinners in biblical language) the Scripture teaches to avoid their ways, or in other words, their sinful actions as opposed to the person. Does God love sin? No! But does He loves sinners? Certainly! Nobody in the world dares to self-proclaim as a sinless person except Jesus Christ. Most people only dare to call ourselves a good person in general, which means that we don't commit "serious crimes." Though the word "sinner" seems too heavy for most of us to bear for the "small sins" we did, a sin is a sin. And a person who commits sins is a sinner. It doesn't matter how big or small, or a multitude of sins or a single crime. If God doesn't love sinners, Jesus Christ would not have come. On the other hand, if we do not admit that we are sinners, we will not treat His salvation as The Good News. For He comes to bring sinners, who admit their sins back to the "path of the righteous." (Proverbs 2:20, 4:18, NIV)
If even God accepts and loves sinners, (again, not their sinful acts) how can we avoid, or even reject them since we are also sinners in our own ways, and Christ still accepts and loves us?
Share with your partner if you have or have not avoided a person because you feel that person was a wicked individual. Pray for each other that we will consider how Christ still love that person and died for that individual. Ask the Holy Spirit to give us the love that we do not have so we can love the unlovable.