I find myself being drawn to conversations about politics lately. Luckily, I don’t have high blood pressure . . . . When I'm in these conversations I have to keep reminding myself that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how much I may disagree with it, however, I've been finding that there are a lot of people in these discussions that don’t see things that way – they believe if you don’t agree with their take on things you are totally wrong. Oy vey!
We know that God’s will is for us to love other people with a godly love. We are called to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) and even to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Jesus told His disciples the night before His crucifixion, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” (John 13:34).
So, is it possible to love a person without liking that person? You may have asked yourself at some point, I know I have, “how can I love someone who hates me because of my stance on something?.”
One issue we find ourselves facing is the English word “love” implies affection. We say we love chocolate or puppies. We can’t comprehend loving something unless we also are fond of it. And this especially true for people. So Jesus’ command to love the people we don’t like seems impossible.
We have to remind ourselves that there are different definitions of love, especially agape love. One definition of agape love that is easy to understand is “truly wanting the best for the other person.”
We are never going to like every person or even respect every person we encounter. The only way to have love for “all” others is when we place our trust fully in Christ and pursue wisdom and holiness through prayer and the Scriptures, then and only then, we will develop a love for others—a godly love which sacrifices self by seeking the best for them—whether or not it is accompanied by respect and affection. We need to also pray for those we are not fond of. I believe, the more we pray for them, the less we are going to dislike them. Yes, this one is still hard to grasp, but with Christ’s help, I’m trying.
We also must remember God has given us minds to discern, to some extent, the hearts of others. We are also made in God’s image and should not unnecessarily put ourselves in harm’s way by trusting someone who is not worthy of that trust. Jesus slipped away from crowds because He knew their hearts and needed to protect Himself (John 5:13; 6:15).
Remember, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), a love like no other. Now, we have to realize, we will not like everyone, nor are we called to. When we begin to show love by our actions, our attitudes will follow – it isn’t going to be an overnight change. Love will still be a choice, but it will gradually become one the heart is more willing and ready to make.
This is going to be a daily—a battle that we can only accomplish with Christ’s help.