Loving the Unlovely

New Hope For Adopted International Kids, Inc Pinehurst, Id
Years ago I thought it was easy to love the unlovely. We walked through many situations with different people who came to Christ during the Jesus Movement. Our first church was a bunch of rag-tag hippies who came to Christ and needed a lot of cleaning up. They were fun and vibrant Christians when they got their feet on the ground. Many were far out when they came to Christ. We had all sorts of things happen.
Once a hippie, who had brightly hand painted his van, pulled up in front of our church office. A wild haired looking man and his wife and their three kids piled out. The wife was at the end with her husband. They had been a wealthy couple who lived in San Francisco when her husband got saved. He read in the Bible that Jesus told the rich man to give away his money and follow Him. The man literally sold everything they had for a song, quit his high paying job and gave it all away to the poor. Lu 18:22. He then put his family into this old van and they had been traveling around the country telling others about Jesus!
When they reached Auburn, California, where we were pastors of Auburn Christian Center they stopped. We began to disciple them and they became vibrant Christians who led others to Christ. Many of the unlovely came during those years, but none topped one. My husband was invited to come to a home. He and a Christian brother were led into the living room by the man’s wife. Entering the room they saw a wild haired and wild looking young man crouched on a stool in the corner growling. My husband and the other man with him began to minister deliverance to the young man and he was set free. That wasn’t the end, but the beginning of helping this young man come into the service of the Lord through discipleship. Looking past the exterior with the eyes of Christ to find the real treasure of the person is a major key in loving the unlovely. A few weeks ago I watched a video of a mother who posted her story on the internet. She held her precious baby boy and shared her story of love for a child that is unlovely to many. Her little boy was born without eyes and has an unusual cleft pallet. There are only 50 people in the whole world with this condition. When she takes her little boy out in public people stare and say terrible things to her. At first she was crushed, but her love for her little boy and her faith in Jesus Christ has given her great strength. As her little guy grew he began to giggle. His giggle is contagious. Now when people say things this little boy giggles and touches hearts. Many have told her how her little boy has touched their hearts. She loved past the outside and found the true love of Christ who placed the real treasure inside of this little boy’s heart. Job 33:6.
It is easy to say that in Christ we love the unlovely, but until you live with a situation daily you will never know how you will respond. We had walked through some pretty tough situations and loved some pretty unlovely people in different churches we pastored. But Christ had more to teach us. We had many successful adoptions and then we hit a huge bump in the road when we adopted a child that had severe problems. The child came to us because another family had disrupted the adoption shortly after this child came into the United States. Our usual turn around time of about two years happened with our other children, but that time came and still the problems remained. Daily living with raging, purposeful bad manners, disobedience and extreme mood swings is no picnic. Some adoption families who find themselves in this situation rightly say this is not for the faint in heart. The hardest part is having someone you dearly love daily say they hate you one moment and love you the next. This is the point where some families who have adopted children that have gone through traumatic situations in their lives and suffer the aftermath disrupt their adoption and give the child away.
Through this adoption journey we have become friends with the police and doctors in our area as we as a family have walked through this valley. This child is unlovely when the hurtful things happen. Does this get under my skin? Yes! Is it hard? Yes! Do we love this child? Yes! Because of Jesus Christ and His renewing strength and the power of His love flowing through us we do love this child. After this child welcomed Jesus we see rays of the beauty of Christ radiating through each situation we face. We choose to love through the unlovely times and let Jesus give us His patient endurance. I Co 13:4.
God doesn’t love us because we are lovable or acceptable in others sight, but because of His grace we are loved by Him. We freely receive His gracious favor through Jesus Christ who loved us “while we were still sinners”. Ro 5:8. As Christians daily we are to love and show compassion unconditionally to those who are difficult to love. A person must be loved for them to become lovable. When someone is treated like an animal they will act like an animal. When you treat someone with kindness and thoughtfulness they will eventually respond. They must be deeply loved even when there is no response. It must not be conditional love. Conditional love is: if you act this way-I will love you. No, it must be- I will love you no matter what.
I read a story of a woman who was badly burned in a house fire and she said that her husband saw her in the hospital and said, “You’re not the woman I married.” He left her to marry someone more acceptable in appearance. That is conditional love.
The key to loving the unlovely unconditionally is to keep drinking in the love of Jesus Christ daily and letting Him flow out of you daily. Inhale His Holy Spirit to fullness and exhale His vibrant expressions of the love of Christ. The renewing love of Jesus will carry us through any and all situations if we will be His vessels.