Love Them All
Blog Post by Ashley Bowie - Loved by God even though she is sometimes annoying.
Is anyone else a little irritated that the bible does not give instruction on how to deal with people who annoy you? We have words from the mouth of Jesus on how to treat enemies, how to treat the people who oppress us, or are wicked leaders, or unrepentant sinners, kings and queens, orphans and widows, but nothing on being annoyed. This is unfortunate because people are very annoying. Some of them talk too much and sometimes you have to carry the whole conversation. Some people try to cross the street where there is no crosswalk, some people chew with their mouths open, some people don’t speak in complete sentences, some people say “irregardless” like it’s a word, some people always interrupt you, and you guys, some people don’t like ice cream.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you said something really ridiculous or out of place and you felt like the fool of the moment? You can recall that moment with exact perfection 10 years later and still feel hints of shame? We all have stories like this. And we have bigger worse ones where you know you sinned against someone or hurt someone and you can’t seem to shake the guilt. Sure this is a tool of our enemy, to keep us trapped in past hurts and make us ineffective for the present. But the Lord is kind, He can and does turn those moments into a remembrance of how far He has brought you and how He has turned your heart against sin.
I’ve done my fair share of sinning in my life. Generally, I am an open book with my friends, I don’t mind talking about the things I’ve learned and the grace God has shown my life. There is one, however, that I cannot stand to talk about if I can avoid it, and I usually can. It produces the strongest aftershock of shame in my heart and frequently I find myself praying, begging God, that I never fall subject to that particular sin again. I’m going to tell you what it is.
There have been moments in my life where I intentionally did not talk to someone because I thought I was better than them, or I didn’t want people to think I was friends with that type of person. I have grown annoyed at people's faults or insecurities and have counted myself better. I’ve seen bad decisions in action and been glad that “at least I’m not stupid.” I have looked down on people as though their sin is any worse than mine, I have avoided people because their quirks rubbed me the wrong way. It makes me feel wretched because I have intimate knowledge of the darkness in my heart, and I have intimate knowledge of God's beautiful light.
Philippians 2:3-8 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!”
Have you ever had a chance to see so many stars in the sky on a perfectly clear night that you could trace the thick band of the Milky Way over your head? It’s a stunner. You have to stand there and just breathe between your exclamations and sighs because what can you really say to adequately capture that kind of beauty? When I look at another person, that night sky is what I imagine. Inside their mind are the infinite possibilities of what they will say or do, what made them who they are, what their goals are, and what they might possibly be capable of. I can see your eye color, the length of your hair, I can be familiar with the shape of your face and the sound of your voice. I can know a few things about you, we can share some memories, but the reach and depth of who you are extends beyond the possibility of total comprehension. At the very least, this kind of craftsmanship by God the Creator, must be respected. And in its design, this delicate and vital work by the hand of God is essential to our growth as a people.
It's easy to chalk our annoyances up to sin. It’s easy to say “what it really is, is that she is selfish.” Or “I just don’t know how to interact with people who are so close minded.” Or “They dislike/hate me, why should I make an effort with them?” Popular advice supports most of this; protect yourself, don’t give to people who won’t give back, don’t engage with people you know you can’t win over. And this can seem like wisdom. Except…
Christ Jesus was God, and He humbled Himself to become a man, He valued the lowly, He reached toward sinners, He held out hands to the difficult personalities and made them an intimate part of His life. He washed feet and He healed the wounds inflicted by those who were too immature to sort out when was a good time for a fight.
There is no, absolutely no discrimination when it comes to who is more deserving of our time. I’ll tell you how you know when to give yourself and when to stop. This two-part rule; are they human? Are they in your vicinity? I’m not saying, seek out people who annoy you. No one has to do that, they exist in our world and if you need an ego pop; you are someone else’s annoying person. Just embrace it, there’s probably nothing you can do about that. But there are people everywhere who need to be loved as they are, welcomed in with sins and quirks and little habits that have you squirming.
Christ who is God, became lower than that, He became a man in order to welcome all to Himself. If the goal is to become more Christ like, then we must welcome all. We must humble ourselves and be sacrificial with our time, our ego, our pride. Can you talk with someone who is openly racist? Jesus did. Can you be seen talking with people that all of society has ostracized? Jesus did. Can you spend time with people that you feel like should be spiritually mature by now but aren’t? Jesus did, and He still does. I am so glad that He does. Where would I be without His loving embrace?