This word rolls off of the tongue so much easier than the literal experience of it. Think about it – no one enjoys feeling unlovely and unwanted. In fact, you and I will do whatever it takes to shy away from any situation that welcomes it.
Yet our distaste for the unlovely does not stop here. One of our fallen tendencies as humans is to prefer the “lovely” to its tainted counterpart – we actually desire the pretty and praised over the ugly and ostracised.
And a research study at the University of Texas proves that this preference starts at infancy. According to the study, infants find peace and comfort in faces that appear more attractive, beautiful, and normal. In their search for human contact, infants actually distrust any face described as disproportionate. Instantly, their cognitive wiring urges them to steer clear for protection.
As believers, we can see this as a clear fruit of human sin and shame. And our enemy adores its work. Using sin, he accuses the unlovely. He fights to keep it unwanted. He flaunts its undesired stature. And he highlights its brokenness.
Yet the gospel of peace tells us of One who came close to the unlovely. It speaks of a man – who was yet more than a man – who welcomed sinners; who was not afraid to come close to the broken; who sought out the ugly and ostracised; the poor and needy; the sick and hurting.
Being apart from our natural inclination to keep the unwanted things unwanted, He – in all perfection – came for those who were unwanted. To the Pharisees, Jesus spoke boldly: “I have come to call outcasts.” (Mark 2:17; GNT)
In our fallen-ness, we could not understand the depths of such love. But the light that dawned on Christ’s birth brought us a new understanding; a new way of life; a new list of descriptions; and a new set of desires.
And much like Christ, we are now called to echo His calling for all things “unlovely.” The revolution that He began is now given to us to continue. We are to seek out the unwanted. Redeem with truth the things outcast. Fight for the marginalised. Speak justice over the oppressed. Bring healing to the broken. And call forth reconciliation to all who surround us.
Our Saviour overcame the human tendency so that we too may do the same. Today, do not overlook the unlovely. Do not steer clear of their pain. Look deep into the eyes of the ostracised. And speak life into the unwanted.
This is the way of peace that we are called to follow.
Greg McKinney is a writer, pastor and the brains behind Reading Truth. A site filled with free daily devotionals to help you get stuck into the Bible for yourself. Check them out at readingtruth.com.