There will always be people we have to learn to love

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  The unsaved do that…. But love your enemies and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great…. –Luke 6:32-35

I was a freshman in college, with everything that implies:  I was green, scared, eager, excited, learning, stupid, silly, and a hundred other things.

Among the civilians working on our campus was Mrs. Grigsby.  I can see her to this day: stern, tight-lipped, unfriendly, and unloving. We thought she looked more like a man than a woman. She was all business, never a ‘good morning,’ and generally unpleasant, we all thought.

Among her other duties, Mrs. Grigsby cleaned the hallways and bathrooms of our dormitory.  (Students were expected to keep our own rooms clean. What a joke.)

The guys in our dorm would make nasty jokes about Mrs. Grigsby behind her back.  She was a convenient target and no one spoke up in her defense.  Boys being boys.

One day my girlfriend back home in Alabama told me something unsettling.  “I have a relative who works at the college where you go.”  She had never met her, but was told this by her mother.  A day or two later, she broke the news to me.

“Her name is Grigsby.”

Yikes.  My girlfriend was related to the campus nightmare.

How in the world was I to deal with this, I wondered.  What if the word ever got out that I was in any way connected to that woman, however remote. What was I to do?

You know the rest of this story, I expect.  In time, I introduced myself to Mrs. Grigsby and discovered that she had the sweetest smile.  She was unfriendly to the boys in the dorm because they were a pretty raucous bunch.  Behind that façade was a nice lady.

It was a good lesson.

The Lord delights in putting into our paths people who are not like us, who do not like us, who seem strange–in order to knock us out of our little selfish ways.

Love this woman.  Love this family.  Love this tribe.

When we learn to love those we had previously written off, we grow and become a little more like Jesus.  After all, He loved us when we stood around the cross spitting and jeering and cursing.  That was us, you know.

Someone on Facebook asked the other day, “How will we know that someone we meet is the Lord appearing to us?”  Various answers came in.  The best answer was just two words: “In retrospect.”

Only after it’s over do we look back and realize that person who ministered to us or allowed us to minister to them or showed up at the critical moment happened to be from the Lord.  Or the Lord Himself.

Our job is to love everyone, friendly or not, gracious or not, deserving or not.

We could take testimonies from the audience at this point on how you came to love someone you had previously made light of.  A racial group, perhaps?  An unwashed family across town?  An unkempt person who showed up at your church?  A dirty child in your classroom? People in jail.  Or in prison.  On death row, even.  Addicted people.  Abusers in rehab.  Baptists.  (smile, please.  It’s been done.)


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