Love the Unwanted
White powder. The girl’s earliest memories are of fine white powder on a shiny, reflective plate on the kitchen cabinet. Her mother loved this white powder. She would spend days away seeking it, then come home and sleep for several more days. The girl’s mother loved it so much it destroyed her marriage(s) (there were five, to be exact). By the time the girl was a teenager, her mother had been in jail so many times she was considered one of the state’s most wanted. And then there were the men. All chasing after that white powder.
The girl looked just like her mother. Many would call her by her mother’s name often, that was how striking the resemblance she bore. It was a subtle reminder of the old adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Most people just overlooked her, or felt sorry for her at best. How unfortunate that she came from that family. She was just another lost cause, statistically speaking.
But God, being rich in mercy, with the great love with which he loved her, sent someone her way who didn’t overlook the value in her soul. This woman drove several miles out of her way many times a week so that the young girl could go to church. Through this woman, the girl met the lover of her soul, the Someone who wanted her despite the family she came from or the mother she looked like. She met Jesus. She’s loved him ever since.
This story is a reminder of the admonishing words of James 2 regarding the sin of partiality.
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory…If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin…” James 2:1,8-9a
God loves the poor, the weak, the child of the drug addict, the orphan and the unwanted. Those kids from the wrong side of whatever boundary we have set up distinguishing the good from the bad.
Yet, far too often than many of us dare to admit, we’re playing favorites in our churches. We want youth groups filled with the kids from the good families. The ones who are well-behaved because they’ve been instructed and disciplined. The kids with the right skin color, who say the right words and listen to the right music. We don’t want the lost causes.
This story hits home with me. I’m teaching through the book of James with my teen girls on Sundays, and this next week we are studying partiality. As teenagers, these girls face this situation every day. I want them to see people how God sees them. I want them to see the value in the souls of girls just like the one mentioned above.
But mostly, this story hits home because I’m that girl. That’s my story. James 2 is powerful in my life in a very real way because an obedient child of God chose to see my worth and love my heart despite who I was, where I came from or what my mother did.
So, who do you need to reach out and love? Identify the unwanted in your church and show them Jesus. You never know what kingdom implications it might have. The obedient woman in my story doesn’t even know the role she played in my eternity. She just loved me. Who do you need to love this week?