Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everyone Is Beautiful and Lovable

photo by branka.kurz
I remember seeing an old dining room table at an auction sale years ago that had been used for years as a workbench in our neighbor’s shop. As a result it had become scratched and scarred, stained with paint and old glue and reflected some very hard wear. I thought the table might go for a couple of dollars at best.

But there were some antique dealers there who viewed this aged piece of furniture in a completely different way. They saw it as a classic, solid oak table they wanted badly, and for which they were willing to bid what I thought was an outrageous amount. And this was not because they felt any pity for the table, or for its owner, but because of their sense of its actual value.

I grew up being told that agape love, or God’s love, is about being able to love the “unlovely and unlovable.” In other words, God (and God’s people) practice an “in-spite-of” kind of love, which means trying to be nice to people we would otherwise not want to be associated with.

I no longer see it that way. For one thing, that kind of “loving”, if it can be called that, is patronizing and arrogant. I believe our Creator is really quite fond of us, like parents are of their children, and not unlike the way the antique dealers were of the oak table. In other words, God doesn’t see us as worthless at all, but as beings who bear all the trademarks of “created in God’s image,” and therefore are incomparably precious--and in fact priceless.

This is not to say that God likes all of our behaviors--and certainly not our self-righteous ones. And like the table, we too may have become marred and scarred, each of us, to the point of sometimes being almost unrecognizable as a part of a “very good” creation.

But God sees great potential in each of us as works of great worth.

That’s the way I want to see every other human being in the world, able to love them with a gleam-in-the-eye delight rather than as an unwelcome obligation.
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