Difficult people are not hard to find. At school, at work, at the shopping centre, at church, and most often, in the mirror. The problem is our personal bias tends to only see the good in ones self, (except when we go the opposite way and abhor ourselves.) The command to love your neighbour as yourself was not at all a command to self love, new age religion turned it into that. We are very good at self love, no matter our flaws.
We are experts at it. I would even suggest that when we are self abhorent, we are still seeking to soothe our conscience.
But back to the issue of difficult people, in particular, ourselves. What does God do with difficult people? Does he tolerate them? Does he love them? Does he expect major changes in response to his love? Does he grow impatient with us if we are slow to transform?
Saul, of the old testatment is an interesting example. In contrast to David, who was a man after his own heart, Saul was a loveable rebel. All that he did wrong, he seemed to do almost accidentally, or with some good intentions. But David, on the other hand, when he sinned, he really did it badly, and deliberately.
Yet God had mercy on them both, in various ways.
God's mercy to Saul seemed to come to him through David, who was never willing to strike "the Lord's annointed". God's mercy to David, came through Nathan the prophet, who opened his eyes to the deliberate killing of Uriah and his adultery with Bathsheba, yet the second child to that union was Solomon.
Before I make any conclusions, I want to look at how we deal with difficult people.
I myself have a tendancy to avoid, or try to expedite my dealings with difficult people. I don't expect them to change, and see them as a necessary but less enjoyable part of life. I certainly don't wish to live with these people. Sadly some people would say they are married to them.
In other words, my love is not as strong for difficult people as it is for "nice" people.
Is this Godly?
How strong is God's love for difficult people?
The answer to this question is very important when we realise that we are the difficult ones.
Were the 12 disciples somehow more gifted than the rest of israel at the time of Jesus ministry?
Surely if Jesus were to hand pick his followers, he would have included John the Baptist ?
But Jesus did hand pick his followers, and it included Judas Iscariot who betrayed him, and Peter who dissowned him.
When I meditate on mself being a difficult person, and God choosing me as a child and follower of Jesus, I consider that God's love for me must be independent of my personality and character.
And I do not think that God just chooses the ugly ducklings because he loves imperfection.
He truly loves all of us, and loves us through and through, and is also frank with us regarding our shortcomings. Our shortcomings must be dealt with, but they are dealt with by him, by his transforming grace, not by our self improvement efforts.
Yes St Paul tells us that he presses on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of him.
And that pressing on, is to gain a better understanding of the grace that God so freely lavishes upon us.
There will be a great transformation, and that will occur when Jesus appears, as he will suddenly transform our lowly bodies ( and personality and character) to be like his.
He is able to do that. He will do that.
And in the meantime, we are willing to submit ourselves to his wonderful plan for our lives, which includes loving one another.
And when we aren't looking, we very occasionally get glimpses of the person we are going to become.