Some people are hard to love.
Wait a minute…can you actually say that?
I’ll say it again. Some people are hard to love. You know who I’m talking about: the ones who are different than you in every area. They vote Democrat, you vote Republican. They’re conservative, you’re liberal. They come from a wealthy family, you come from a poor family. They’re city-slickers, you’re from a farm in God’s country. They’re uncultured and can’t even spell art, you watch Downton Abbey and own a Van Gogh. They say tomato…just kidding.
But let’s be honest. There are people out there who are totally unlike us, and it makes them a lot harder to love. If “they” (whoever “they” is for you) show up at your church, it’s easier to let somebody else reach out to them. We wouldn’t have anything in common. Better leave them to Hospitality Joe over there who gave the “You Are Invited” card to a mannequin that one time. And when it comes to evangelism, “they” are the last people you’d feel ready to go to.
So what do we do with the unsaved “them’s,” the ones who are so different from us? Leave them to somebody else to evangelize? Hold our breath, speak quickly, and try not to stay too long? Assume they’re unreachable?
In a previous post we discussed the image of God as the lens through which God calls us to view every person around us. We said that every single human being is more like God than any other being in creation. Now let’s take that truth and apply it to evangelizing the “thems.” How do we actually love lost people who are greatly different than us? There are unsaved people who we still find much in common with. We share the same hobbies, like the same football teams, work at the same jobs. And those people should receive our love, witness the gospel in our lives and hear the gospel from our lips. But what about the ones who look so uninterested in God and different in every area you hold dear?
Here’s where the image of God comes in. Because humans are made in God’s image, every person is capable of communion with God. Let me say that again: even the “them’s,” whether that’s a skinny-jean-clad hipster or a tobacco-chewing hillbilly, are capable of communion with God. That tattooed drug dealer, because he is made in the image of God, could one day be a passionate worship leader in your church. That woman who seems so stridently political might one day be the leader of a fruitful women’s ministry. And every single member of the “them’s” is created by God capable of loving him, praying to him, worshiping him, and receiving all the benefits of the gospel.
So here’s my challenge: next time you pass one of “them,” tell yourself, “That person is made in God’s image. They are created capable of knowing God and loving him.” Resist the temptation to divide humans into “save-able” and “unsave-able.” Ask God for an open door to share the Word with “them.” Because there’s a whole world of lost image-bearers out there in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ – even the “them’s.”