Others Devotional, volume 25

Loving the Unlovable by Blake Hiemstra

Scripture:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“God loves everybody.”

No, that’s not a “Day of Infamy” line that’s going to get replayed on the nightly news ad infinitum. It’s not necessarily a Walter Cronkite-type bit that CBS rolls out of its archives every November 22.

Clearly though, the line is staggering to contemplate. Sobering. Shocking.

It hit me a while back as I leaned against the back of the Team Hiemstra van waiting for my beloved wife to exit a grocery story. While the words of John 3:16 are the ones that most everyone can quote, believer or not, it’s poignant to realize that the word “world” means every single blessed person in the world.

Thus . . .

The diminutive, aging man with the limp who crept across the parking lot at a pace that’d make a snail’s seem brisk? Yep. God loves him deeply.

The high-heeled power-mom whose grocery fury apparently led her to park the shopping cart in its own asphalt oasis instead of fifteen feet down the road with the colony of other carts at the corral? Yep. God’s passionately in love with her.

The sagging, grunging, flanneling adolescent with more piercings than a used Lite Brite design, who’s obviously trying to make his way back to Seattle for the Pearl Jam reunion concert? Yep. God rejoices over him with singing.

Every single blessed person who passed in front of me, whether wearing a smile or a scowl, is loved beyond comprehension by the God of the universe. Every single person is known and treasured by God. That’s humbling, especially in light of the fact I struggle to love even the endearingly lovable, let alone the emotional porcupines who rebuff my affection.

At the level of the classroom that you right now inhabit, the same love is present.

The girl with the perpetual scowl whose very expression seems to be flippingly daring you to make one, just one comment about it? Yep. God sacrificed his very son for her.

The teacher with chronic coffee breath who clutches Classroom Order with the iron-glad grip of a dictator? Absolutely. God numbers the hairs on his head, one by one.

What’s more, that same God is indescribably infatuated with me . . . and with you. God delights in me. He watches over me. Even when I speak Sarcasm like it’s my native language or indulge in selfish pursuits like I’m the sole inhabitant of this planet, God loves me.

To be honest, I don’t get it. I don’t understand how that’s possible. Sure, I can understand how God treasures a sweet-smelling newborn. But the road-raged psycho who just cut me off? I don’t quite get that. How the well never dries up. How affection embraces apathy. How compassion meets contention. How love wins.

But it does. And for that, I’m grateful. Even if I’m never able to wrap my feeble mind around the fierce immensity of that love, just knowing that it’s there is enough fuel for the journey for the next ten thousand years or so.

With the difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible task of loving others that we’ve pursued this year, it’s nice to look north and let the Master show us how it’s done.

Sally Lloyd Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, explains God’s deep love in this way: “You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” That’s the way God views and loves everybody.

That’s the way he wants us to do it too.

Want a humbling experience? Wherever you’re right now, stop and watch the world. Look at the different people that come across your path. Think about each human being you’ve encountered in this world today. As you contemplate each one, realize that God is madly, passionately in love with that person.

And that He sacrificed his Son for each one. Makes you want to kind of look at people differently, doesn’t it?

Prayer: Spirit, give us Jesus eyes. Give us your vision to see everyone on this planet as precious and holy. May we love deeply, from the heart. In the name of Jesus, amen.

About the Author: Blake Hiemstra is a blessed husband, father, teacher and principal who finds nearly unrivaled bliss in pairing together on the page a few phrases like they’re meant to be wed, even if it happens infrequently.

Originally published on March 23, 2017.

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