Loving Those ‘Darn Difficult People’

Do you ever feel like life is going like this….

cliff

What about other people’s lives? Maybe you see it coming, but they don’t. OR they’ve hit rock bottom, and they are simply hard to be around because honestly – they have a lot of …

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….. to walk through.

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Every day I see all kinds of hurt and pain in people’s lives. Being on a college campus, I get a front row seat to many people’s bad life decisions.

Too often I see people just floating through life with no real thought about where their life is heading or the consequences of their actions.

Sure they are young, so they have time to figure it out, right?

That’s true until a decision is made that has long-lasting consequences. Maybe it doesn’t catch up with you for while but at some point life always does. Besides as my boy, Andy Stanley says,

Life has enough unavoidable pain without creating unnecessary pain for ourselves.

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More than anything my heart just aches for people. As I scroll through social media or talk to people, I can see where their life is heading…. Off a cliff.

All the drinking, sex, and avoiding thinking through actions has a cumulative impact.

It’d be easy to just be depressed or think, ‘well society has just gone to hell’ and retreat to my Christian friends to stay safe and secure away from other people’s troubles.

Kinda appealing if you think about it. 

It’s so much easier to hang out with people who think like us, enjoy God like us, and don’t drag us into their huge mess.

Just one tiny little problem…………..

tiny small richard pryor little bit a little

Not what God called us to. 

When Jesus was on earth, you know what he was best at? Wading right into people’s crap. Like right in the middle of their smelly, stinky, big, annoying, mess. He’d hang around people and show his love and care and then cut right to the stinky elephant in the room.

Take a look at Zacchaeus’ story. Or the woman at the well. Or the woman caught in adultery. Or Matthew’s calling. Or the blind man Jesus heals with mud. The list goes on and on….

Jesus took the time to love people who honestly…. were difficult to love. If you look at each story, you’ll notice an interesting theme. Jesus showed love and care for them before they changed their behavior. It was his love that started the change in their hearts that led to changed behavior.

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I think all too often in our Christian world our goal is to improve people’s behavior. After all, you can’t have people dropping F bombs, struggling with drugs, sleeping around all the time AND be in your church.

When our goal is to change behavior and not introduce people to Jesus’s love – through our love for them. Our ‘mission’ fails – we don’t change behavior for the long haul. The only way to really change behavior is to have a changed heart – and that comes from knowing how messed up we are and how loved we are by Jesus.

So yeah being around messed up people is hard. It’s painful because your heart hurts for them. It’s hard because you just desperately wish they would follow Jesus. It’s hard because they do things that we would never dream of doing. But most of all

It’s hard when we secertly want people to be bad because it makes us look/feel holier.

Ironically, it helps us feel like we are better people when we have others to look down on. That comes from a religious heart – a heart that is self-serving and seeks to work hard to earn God’s approval. Take a look at the older brother in Luke 15.

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 In the midst of the pain and hurt in people’s lives, often times the only way to really help them is to continue to love them. It’s not easy, but that’s where relying on God to strengthen us happens.

The reason Jesus talked about love so much is that is how his power is shown in the world. That is what separates Jesus from every other person. The fact that he loved even when it cost him his life.

For his followers, we are supposed to model that same behavior. So that will mean being uncomfortable. That will probably mean being offended by people’s behavior.

I would even contend that if you don’t have people in your life that make you uncomfortable or are challenging to love – you are not living out God’s mission.

Trust me there is a hurting world that would love some more love. They may not realize it, but the love we have in our hearts is the same love that could bring healing to their life. The only way they learn that is if we walk right into their

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Cuz don’t forget…. you had a big pile too and Jesus loved you through it and still does.

– Nate

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