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Loving Unlovely People

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Each day we speak with those we love and those we don’t.
It’s easier to care about those we know, who are easy to love.
We see them on their good days and bad.
We know when they’re happy or sad.
Sometimes their lives are etched with pain.
You can see it in their faces.
The stress of life has worn them down.
They want to smile, but all they can do is frown.

But what about those difficult people?
We deal with them too.
We have many words to describe them:
insulting, insolent and irritating are only a few.
The unlovely people are everywhere.
It could be your boss, colleague. neighbor, relative, drug addict, homeless person or a friend.
They know the things to say to get under your skin.
You can put up emotional walls, but they find a way to get in.
Their behavior causes you to say things to them that usually you don’t.

You feel awful about yourself after your cutting words to difficult people affect them.
You hate yourself for doing it.
If you could only press the erase button on the cruel things you’ve said.
But while you can’t do that there is something healing you can do.
You can go to those you have hurt and say, “I’m sorry”
They most likely will say, “It was nothing.”
They may be real and say, “I had my barriers down when you said the things you did. I don’t forgive you.” What do you do then?
Continue to pray for them.
Love them as the Lord loves you.

How often our human nature gets in the way.
We think so and so deserved the awful things we say.
But that gnawing at our spirits convicts us of our ill-thought words.
I believe that if we ask God for His help in healing our damaged relationships, He will give it.
It may take a long time, but keep at it.
Prayer and time can restore your relationships.
Sadly, there are times the person you hurt will end the relationship.
The grief of that loss may hit you hard.
Feel it.
Don’t continue to deny it entry.
It will like a break and enter force its way in if it has to.
We know the damage that can do.

Christ dealt with difficult people.
He loved them.
H forgave the chief priests who conspired to murder Him.
He forgave the thief on the cross who blasphemed Him.
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” (Luke 23:9, NASB)

He forgave Judas Iscariot for betraying Him for 30 pieces of silver.
He forgave His followers for falling asleep in the garden at Gethsemane, as His crucifixion neared.
He forgave the Roman soldiers who divided His clothes into four parts, a part for each soldier.
They gambled for them.
They bet for Jesus’ seamless tunic.
He forgave the Roman soldier who put a crown of thorns upon His head.
Jesus asked God to forgive them all
He interceded for the mocking religious leaders.
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] (Luke 23:34a, NASB)

Many say these events never happened.
They are only stories, not fact.
It’s a matter of faith whether or not we believe they did happen,

Let this thought be pondered:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

―C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity
God leaves the choice with us to believe in His Son or not.

I offer a testimony from my life to illustrate this point.
At the age of 20 while I loved God, I hadn’t surrendered my life to Him.
God opened a door for me to train to work as a front desk counselor trainee at a provincial correctional halfway house called The Salvation Army Bunton Lodge Community Residential Center (C.R.C.).
One day I had a discussion with Major Jessie Mayo, a retired Salvation Army officer. She was the bookkeeper at Bunton Lodge.
I asked her, “How do I find out more about The Salvation Army?”
She replied saying, “I will find out the nearest corps (church) to you.”
Shortly after we finished talking, she told me the nearest corps was The Salvation Army North York Temple.
She gave me the name of their corps officer (church pastor).
Major Jessie Mayo suggested calling him to arrange for a meeting.

Our Father was tired of me sitting on the fence of a half-committed life to Him.
In March 1983 during a service at The Salvation Army North York Temple in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I was challenged by this question in a sermon from their pastor, Captain (later Commissioner) Maxwell Feener.
“Are you walking alongside the horse in defeat or riding in victory?”
He summed up my struggle.
I went forward. I knelt at the mercy-seat (altar). A counselor knelt with me. I asked God to forgive me for my sins.
I had held on to hating my father, Jim, for his emotional and physical abuse when I was a child, into my teenage years.
I began the process of letting all that rage go.
If I hadn’t it would have consumed me.
Peace flooded my soul.
I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.
I committed my life to Christ.

Many times I have sinned and let God down.
Don’t many of us do that when we encounter unsavory people?
Ask God to forgive you.
He will if you allow Him to.
Then, go to the people you offended.
Some may forgive you while others may not.
You need to leave them to God.
Know in your heart you’ve done the right thing.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself loving unlovely people.
You might see them in a different light.
That can occur when God gives us spiritual insight.

The light of Christ’s love will guide you night and day.
That’s what can happen when you forgive and love others God’s way.

Dr. Kevin Osborne is the Dean of Psychology and President of Student Affairs for St. James the Elder University. He is s therapist, writer, poet, and singer. He helps people in their inner healing journey. Dr. Kevin Osborne lives in Timmins, northern Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Karen. She is the Registrar for SJTEU. Karen has a B.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling summa cum laude from St. James the Elder Theological Seminary (now St. James the Elder University). She is planning to pursue graduate studies majoring in Psychology and Applied Theology. Karen is a writer and editor, and counselor. Karen and Kevin are powned by their 20-year-old cat, Katherine, a.k.a. Her Royal Furriness, Princess Katherine of Timmins.