One of my past life experiences was a Humane Police Officer in several rural counties of Pennsylvania. I worked with state and local law enforcement as well as social services to help animals in need and also people in need.
In fifteen years I had seen the worst of our fallen world and the lives people live in it. To be sure there was much neglect of animals, usually not born of malice but from hard times, ignorance and bad decisions.
It took me years in my spiritual journey to begin to see these people as God's image bearers. They were the worst of sinners just as I am but they were sick and in need of human medicine and usually the medicine only Christ can give.
I helped many animals, seized many and had to put down many that were beyond help. We also helped many people giving them food for their pets, veterinary care and spaying/neutering. We referred people to doctors and others that could help them.
The Lord showed me many things.
In the world I walked into everyday there was little beauty. There was filth, neglect, sad and sick people and their animals, their only companions usually.
In our world we value youth and beauty above all as if it is an antidote to the ugly and disagreeable. Secular eyes see what they only want to see. The homeless, the hungry, the needy are looked past by most.
Many of the people I encountered were angry or had developed coarse personalities. Life had made them cynical and untrusting. Some refused my help while others gladly accepted. Most did not express gratitude but were relieved.
As we seek to live the Christian Life, living and thinking like Jesus we will encounter many people, the unloved, the ugly and unattractive who are image bearers. What do we do for the least of these? Does our disgust keep us from helping?
Who do you love? Lets not forget the many children both black and brown gunned down everyday in America. What about the homeless, many of them mentally ill who will love them?
In all our communities there are those we shun and ignore. They are just no good some will say, there is no helping them. Poverty plagues millions.
If we indeed want to model what our Lord did while on this earth we must seek to do all the good we can for the people around us as long as we live. We must get past the revulsion and step out of our comfort zone to help others.
Our Lord walked with and lived with the “ugly” people of his day, homeless people with contagious diseases and the disreputable. Jesus ministered in uninviting and unpopular places, loving those whom society considered unlovable and unworthy. This is how God loves all of His creation, despite our sins and transgressions, despite our unrighteousness. Even in the ugliness of our sins, our ongoing arrogance, and our narrow-minded thinking, God continues to love us and help us.
In all the ugly places I encountered in my job as a Humane Police Officer God was there. In the ugliness of the drug houses, God is there. In the ugliness of wars, terror and mass shootings God is still there for us. In the midst those whom society has discarded and incarcerated, God continues to be with them. In the ugly places around us God is still speaking and calling His children to life.
So let us today praise the one who died for us and continues to seek us despite our ugly and sinful souls! And may we also seek to do good to the forgotten and sick in our communities in Christ's name!