For a while I worked in a chemist. Whilst I had this job, there was a man who came in everyday day to drink the green grunge that heroin addicts have to take, methadone. He was probably homeless and he smelt. Badly. The smell was so bad you could almost taste it. Everyone would try to avoid going near him, if at all possible, and, I’m ashamed to admit, I did too.
After a while God challenged me on this. You see, we are called to love everyone, no matter what. I wasn’t doing that, I was probably making that man feel pretty bad by subtly trying to avoid serving him. Pretending to do something else when I saw him coming.
After all, God loved me when I was still a mess.
There’s a story in the bibe about a father and two sons. You probably know it, but it’s a story that’s worth hearing again. In this story the younger son decides he loves his dad money probably more than he loves his dad, so asks for his inheritance, effectively saying he wishes his father dead! He doesn’t put this money towards something sensible like a mortgage, nope, he just wastes it living recklessly. Eventually he ends up living of pig food, and decides that its probably best to go back to his father, no matter what the consequences. He rehearses the speech he is going to tell his father “I have sinned against heaven and against you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son,” and heads home with his tail between his legs, to his father.
His dad sees him while he is still far of and runs to him and embraces him. Even though thr son took his inheritance the dad was watching out for him, his dad still cared. His dad ran to him he was excited to have him back, and didn’t care about embarrassing himself. The father then hugged his son, despite the fact he was probably a stinking unwashed mess, he had just been eating pig swill after all!
Thats what God’s love for us is like. God doesn’t wait for us to be clean and perfect before he comes to us. God accepts us in our mess, while we are still far off.
God loves us, in all of our imperfections, sin and mess. He never stops loving us. He sent his son to die for us. While we were still stinking sinners.
I think if we really realised this, we would love people so much better. If we truly understood that God loved us in our mess, we would find it so much easier to love others in theirs. When I realised that I was no different from that customer who came into the pharmacy, I found it much easier to love him with the love of Christ.