LOVING THE UNLOVED AND THE UNLOVING.
Most of us will accept, at least in principle, the idea of loving one's neighbor. But a few of us will hesitate because of an aversion or revulsion against some person or group. this is true in the caring and showing love to a person who is in prison. This hesitation to accept the whole of love may come about either because we do not understand the nature of the love required in these cases, or because we do not deeply understand certain relevant motives for loving.
As to the nature of the love required, we are not obliged to love others together with the things we dislike in them. These people may be deceitful, unreliaable, unjust, or they may be uncouth, vulgar, or oppositely, too refined. We may see them as a threat to us, real or imagined, or we may bear deep resentments for causes real or imagined. In none of these and simular cases are we obliged to love what stands between us and the person; we do not have to love what makes him or her undesirable or repulsive. We must love the man/woman, the human being. We love him or her despite what bothers us about him/her. When we in that way distinguish between the man/woman and his/her defects, we are, of course, applying an old, but ever-useful counsel that we hate the sin but love the sinner. In this we are being perfect in our own way as our heavenly Father is in His. He loves all men/women despite their sins and deficiencies. If we protest that we are not divine enough to love with the same forbearance and forgiveness that God does, then let us consider someone in whom we continually see undesirable things and yet still love deeply. God is not asking the impossible of us; this somewhat undesirable person whom we love deeply is ourselves. If we are honest with ourselves, we will recognize that we do many things, even every day, which are wrong, unfitting, or thoughtless. These often bring us deep shame or embarrassment, sometimes even real difficulty. Yet, although we certainly do not love these defects, we continue to do our duty toward ourselves by loving ourselves all the same. There's where our Pastors come into focus, by reaching out to the often neglected and despised inmates in the prisons. Our main aim and focus is on changing them by the powerful message of the Gospel, and transforming them into respectful and changed persons when they are freed from prison back into society. We do not want them to repeat the same deeds that brought them in prison!
Our outreach is not for selfish esteem or material gain, but is based on love of neighbor! On the street lying near the gutter, lies another child; another little mouth to feed, it has no home, no father or mother to take care of it. People, don't you understand? The child needs a helping hand! Or he'll grow up an angry young man some day. Take a look at you and me. We have at least three square meals a day! People, don't you understand? The child needs a helping hand! Take a good look at the situation! Are we too blind to see? Or do we simply turn our heads and look the other way? Well, people may say, The world keeps on turning round and round, and in the meantime a hungry little boy with a runny nose plays in the street as the rains come down and the wind blows on this street corner, and his hunger burns. So he starts to roam the streets at night, and he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight on the streets. Then, one night in desperation the young man breaks away with a street gang of thiefs. He somehow manages to obtain a gun, he steals a car. He tries to run, but he doesn't get very far, and those around him are crying ever so late as a the young man dies on the pavement, with a gun in his hand on this sad sunny morning. Another young child faces the same tragedy in the future when he grows up on the streets. And the Missionary cries out for help, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.Do you see the picture friends? One can appeal world-wide for the poor and downtrodden abandoned children on the streets, and those who ended up in prison under simular circumstances. Can you who reads this see the need? Can you contribute even in a small way to our mission? Are you offended by the request for financial help? Does it upset you? If our need is not mentioned, how will you know that we need help? Let me repeat: Can you help us even in a small way? Pray about it sincerely!
If you do,you will be blessed!