One of my greatest pet peeves is hearing that old Christian cliche, “Well, you don’t have to like everybody; you just have to love ’em.” Do people still say that? Something like it, right? It’s just funny, because, think about it — have you ever felt loved by someone who didn’t like you? I guess it’s possible, but even if you have, was it a weak, human kind of love…or the life-giving, world-changing kind of love God commands us to give?
Maybe I’m not making sense, because you know full well that it’s just not possible to like everybody in the world. Even “loving” them is a stretch. To this, I totally agree. So I humbly suggest a new response for all the difficult, unlikeable people we come across — a revision to the old saying, if you will: “You don’t have to like who they are right now, but you sure can like who they’re meant to be.” Right?
As Christians, we believe some radical things about people. Like, wow, we believe that everyperson was made in the image of our great God and Creator. What’s more, we believe that this very same Creator knit each of us together perfectly and beautifully. Amazing. On the other hand, we believe that sin has entered the world and has distorted every part of creation, even seeping into the depths of each heart. The ugliness? No one can fathom. And ever since the Fall, we’ve been trying to re-discover the people we were made to be in the first place.
Oh, I wish I could say I was good at liking the unlikeable, but the truth is, I write this today because of the darkness of my own heart — the darkness I see so easily…in others. I’ve been critical and impatient and unloving. I’ve set out to examine and “fix” the people around me, instead of enjoying them. I’ve let their flaws point me to the sin nature in all of us, instead of seeing the imperfections as a mere reflection of what’s meant to be.
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Oh Father, teach us how.