Many people appear obnoxious or distant until you get to know them. Knowing them, their reason-of-being, quickly dispels the mystery, then they can be loved.
The theory I want to test is this:
All people are lovable.
The rider to this (for, there is always a rider!) is all people are personally lovable—by our feelings of love toward them—when we know them: by what makes them tick, their baggage and the reason for that baggage, and their barriers to intimacy and commitment. Knowing them is to know them not only on the outside, but on the inside too.
Like we need to know God to be able to love him, we have to know people in order to love them.
There is the immediacy of empathy we feel when we know what people have gone through in their experience of life—what has coloured their experience; that which informs their decisions of the day, today and tomorrow. When we see through the lens of cause-and-effect we see life, from their context, as it truly is.
Perhaps the Jesus Approach
This may have been the underpinning attitude of the Lord Jesus, in certain situations, as he sought to find people for saving—that everyone has their story, their explanation, for reacting either positively or negatively in life—responses of belief and unbelief.
Not that Jesus needed, necessarily, to get to know people; he proved by his interaction with the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 that he knew every detail of her life, already.
Knowing her life meant two things to Jesus: first, the Lord understood, in advance, the personal context and struggles of the woman at the well; second, such an understanding wouldn’t dissuade him from loving her enough to spend time with her and, in that, calling her to repent—to leave that life of bondage and gain her spiritual freedom.
It could be fairly said of Jesus that he judged only one type of person: the legalist. Only the person stiff-necked and beyond help, by their spiritually-dead preponderance, is beyond love; and not for any other reason but they put themselves beyond it.
Jesus’ love penetrates the heart open to truth. And only when we know a person, as if in the same way that Jesus could know them, will we see them with that open heart.
A Near, Dear and Present Opportunity
What a dazzling reality this fact is: the reason why people are beyond our love, and for the moment beyond Christ’s love, is we don’t know them as they should be known, with all their ‘stuff’ taken into account.
There are barriers to intimacy, and therefore trust, in a highly relational setting.
Knowledge, in a relational context, is the main barrier to intimacy. If we were able to live inside someone, even for a few moments, to think and feel the way they do, we would surely glimpse eternity, and a spirit, within them.
Whoever we encounter is penetrable for love. If we got to know them, what they had dealt with, and there was mutuality of rapport, they would receive our love, and we would have no hesitation in giving it.
To love people is to know them. To know people is to love them.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.