Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who was talking about a person who completely drives them crazy? Have you ever heard a person talk about how they just don’t like someone? Have you ever known someone that has been difficult to like? It’s common, and in honesty, I’ve had a few people in life that, like Rick Warren talks about, are just a little extra grace required.
As people who follow Jesus, we often don’t know what to do when we don’t like someone. We know deep within that we are to love others deeeply. We understand that, as followers of Jesus, we are to love every person with whom we come in contact. This creates a problem when our lives cross paths with someone that just rubs us the wrong way. Somehow this irritation needed to be justified by others in the past, so a new theology was created. I’m sure you’ve heard it, “I love them, but I don’t have to like them!”
Let me say that one more time. “I love him, I love her, but I don’t like him, but I don’t like her!” In someway this statement justifies our irritation or discomfort and justifies negative thoughts or emotions toward the person. I’ve heard this phrase from pulpits, preachers, dedicated followers of Jesus, authors and the like. It is a very popular belief, and is, in fact, a lie.
The theological idea that we can love and not like is simply untrue.
Paul talks in both Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 about the body. He uses this powerful analogy to demonstrate how many parts and functions create one, beautiful, fully functional and glorious body. Each part has value. Each part has equal value. Each part is beautiful. Each part is purposeful. Each part is experienced differently. Each part is needed. Our differences, that often are seen as irritants, are in fact necessary parts of the body. Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 13 that all these parts are well and good, but if they perform their function absent of love, then the function is simply noise. Let’s see what love looks like: Love is patient. Love is Kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not rude. Love is not self-seeking. Love keeps no record of wrong. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails.