But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” — Mark 2:16 (NLT)
We’ve all done it, haven’t we? We walked past the homeless, destitute beggar on the street; we turned our back on the street collectors working for the recovery unit that helps people with drug and alcohol addiction; and even today we turn up our noses at tax collectors, don’t we?
Well, Jesus loved them all. The abusers and the addicts, the destitute and the desperate, the prostitutes and the poor. It’s all there in the Bible, your most useful manual for life, your Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. We should all read it, and we should read it all, before we finally depart from this mortal coil! Have you?
Jesus called one of the despicable tax collectors to join as one of His disciples, and then He was invited to his house to share a meal. According to the religious leaders of the day (the Pharisees), Jesus should not have been associating with “people of this kind,” let alone entering their homes and sharing a meal with them. Jesus would eat with those who He shouldn’t even meet, according to the Pharisees.
How are we doing? That was one of the challenging questions that God asked me that fateful day when on a mission trip to Estonia. We were there to develop a retreat for those very people that Jesus would meet, and that the Pharisees would shun. But I had gone with one purpose: to ask God what I should be doing with my life. You can read more about this in the 12th module of the Discipleship programme.
It’s a challenge for us all. After all, many of those who Jesus loved were unloved by most in the community and the neighbourhood. They were shunned and rejected and ostracised. Maybe you know how that feels; maybe you don’t.
One place you will find people who are considered unlovable today is in prison; and when they are released from prison, they remain unlovable. Those who leave prison often find it difficult to become reintegrated back into society. They find it difficult to form appropriate friendships, find jobs, develop hobbies and pastimes to occupy their minds. This contributes to the unacceptably excessive levels of reoffending, particularly among younger adults.
But perhaps we can buck the trend. Perhaps we can be like Jesus. Perhaps we can love like Jesus. Perhaps we can love the unlovable. Let’s make a decision – however uncomfortable that might feel – to do just this. After all, it is the second part of the Great Command to us in the New Testament: to love our neighbour.
May we pray? Heavenly Father, Thank You that you love the unlovable. Help us, also, to reach out and to love the unlovable, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
If you are struggling and feeling unloved or unlovable today, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch. Don’t feel as though you have to battle alone – Jesus loves EVERYONE, regardless of race, religion, colour, creed, sexuality or sin. After all, He loved me, didn’t He? May God Bless You.
Have you had your copy of ‘DARE to Hope!’ yet? You can download it here.