Chances are you know someone who is a tad annoying. That kid in your youth group who never shuts up. That girl in school who always has to be the centre of attention. The socially clueless guy that no-one invites anywhere but who always manages to turn up anyway. The one everyone laughs at. The one who doesn’t fit in, but is left on the margins.
Here are a few things you need to know about those annoying people. First – they are made in the image of God. He knit them together in their mother’s womb (see Genesis 1 and Psalm 139). Second – He loves them so much that Jesus came to die for them (John 3:16). Third – some day we will have to give an account to God for the way we treated them (see Matthew 25).
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “The tongue can bring death or life”. When it comes to those people in our life who are annoying we have a choice. We can treat them like everyone else, avoiding them as much as possible, mocking them, sarcastically putting them down, laughing at them. Or we can bring life. We can follow Jesus’ example and spend time loving the outcasts of society. Rather than putting them down, we can build them up with words of encouragement. Rather than ignoring them we can humble ourselves and consider them worthy of our attention. If Jesus loves them enough to die for them, shouldn’t we at least be able to let them have a few hours of our time?
And it isn’t enough simply to be kind to them to their face. We have to watch our attitude behind their back too. Because it is easy to fall into the trap of joining in with everyone else making fun of them when they aren’t around. But that is hypocrisy, and Jesus isn’t too fond of hypocrites (see Matthew 23:13-37). And we can’t just stay silent either. We need to speak up and defend them, letting the “in crew” know that we aren’t cool with them tearing others to pieces for the sake of a quick laugh. In Matthew 12:37 Jesus tells us “The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” What will our words do? Will we use our words to bring life or death? Will we speak hope into those who feel like no-one cares for them? Will we give encouragement to those who no-one else has time for? Or will we think we are above them? Will we join everyone else in just looking down on them from afar rather than taking the time to bend down beside them and whisper hope into their life?
Don’t get me wrong, there are people that it is challenging to love. People who you will just want to punch in the face rather than greet with Christian love. Jesus never said it would be easy. He warned us it would be hard. He tells us not to love just those who love us back, but to love all, even those annoying, dorky people that you’d rather just laugh about with your cooler friends.
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:46-48
As Christians we are a new creation. We have been set the challenge of being perfect. We are called to become more and more like Jesus every day. We are called to live by God’s standards, not the world’s standards. And as we strive to be spiritually mature, we need to have a renewed attitude, letting God transform us into a new person by changing the way we think. And that means thinking differently about the annoying people we know. It means loving them, sincerely. It means looking out for them. It means no more laughing at them. No more ignoring them. We need to model Christ’s love to them. Spending time with them may not be as rewarding as showing God’s love to the group of hot girls at the shopping centre, but it is what we need to do; it isn’t an optional extra for the elite believers. So let’s do it!