John 12:32, John 15:13
Unmerited Love. That’s what Christ’s story is all about. It’s about His love for His own people, despite the fact that they abused and rejected Him. He didn’t love the people who crucified Him because of how lovable they were and how many good qualities they had–He loved them because that’s what His Father wanted.
When we think about loving our own families, particularly when we are coming from a background of strained or broken family relationships, and relatives who are simply not easy to love…that’s when we need to keep our eyes most fixed on Christ. Love isn’t only for those who deserve it. If it were, we’d all be lost without hope. But because we have a Savior who loved us when we were unlovable, we can understand the impact of making a grace-filled choice to love the unlovable people in our own lives.
We can forgive people who don’t think they need forgiveness (Jesus did). We can love the people who’ve betrayed us (Jesus did). Remember, though, that the Christ-like love isn’t really the warm, fuzzy feelings kind of love–it’s more a love of action and choice. Choosing to love difficult people doesn’t mean forcing ourselves to feel mushy and happy feelings about them. Those feelings might never be there. But we can put love in action anyways. We can choose actions that show mercy, grace, and love to the family members who challenge us most. We can surprise them with kindness that they know they don’t deserve (a little bit like how we don’t deserve what Christ gave us, right?). You never know–your choice to take the more difficult road of loving your unlovable family may be exactly what reveals God’s love to them!