Tuesday, April 08, 2008

like love

We had a great conversation last night with a group of friends about "loving" and "liking." As Christians we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love covers over a multitude of sins. This is how we know what love is, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And we love because God first loved us.

But where does "liking" someone come into play with all of this. Most of us find it easier to love someone if we "like" them. But there are other times that we don't really "like" people and we know we must love them.

My sister made an interesting observation that helped us have a more truthful conversation about all of this. She noticed that "like" was more particular and "love" was more holistic. Meaning, it is often more true to say that we "like" or "dislike" a certain part of a person rather than the whole person. When we are referring to the whole person, love is a more appropriate term.

It is often the case that we can like a person's personality, but dislike their actions. We can like a person's humor, but dislike certain aspects of their character. We can like the way a person works hard but dislike some of the decisions that they have made. "Like," more often than not, seems to be "particular."

It is rarely true that "we don't like someone." It is also rarely true that "we like someone." Most of the time we don't "like" or "dislike" every single aspect of the people we are in relation to. When we say "I don't like him" or "I like him," what we usually mean is that from what we know of the person, the balance of scales has moved in one direction or the other. It is more true to say, "I like many things about him" or "I dislike many things about him."

So since "like" tends to be more "particular" in nature, as we talked, we noticed that loving someone has an impact on that. Even if we "dislike many things about someone," as we strive to love them, our eyes are opened to more and more things that we like about them. We begin to see their value more and more. We begin to see their strengths more and more. We begin to see them with all of their potential and possibility. We get glimpses of who they are becoming. In a sense, we begin to have eyes to see the way God sees them.

Most of the time, we love people where a good portion of "like" is already there. But in following Jesus, we are called to love people whom we don't automatically see things in them to "like." We may, in fact, dislike most things about them. But as we chart a course of love to navigate our relationship with them, we will likely be surprised at how much about them we end up really liking.


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