You Don’t Have to Like to Love
Matthew 5:46-47: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
I generally see myself as a people person. I get along with most, enjoy being around people, getting to know them, and especially laughing with them. I like philosophical types, comedians, braniacs and even your occasional cynic. But every once in a while you run into someone that just rubs you the wrong way. They get under your skin, sometimes for obvious reasons and sometimes for reasons you just can’t put your finger on. Maybe it’s the way they pronounce “expecially,” or how they are grumpy for what seems like no reason, or maybe it’s just because they are a little too much like you and you find that threatening (subconsciously of course).
It’s easy to love people you like. I’ve also found it’s fairly easy to love people you don’t know. But it’s THOSE people that are the hardest. The people that you know and you also know you don’t really like. Now, I am in no way condoning the acceptance of general dislike – of course we are called to pray for a change of heart towards these people, to learn to know them and see what it is about them that is likable. But in the meantime, no matter how we feel, no matter how grouchy they are or how loudly they smack their gum, we are called to LOVE them above all else.
That’s where I struggle the most. Finding ways to love them, to serve them, even when my own broken, selfish being would rather run for the hills. The life of Christ really is a testament to that. He loved and died for people that beat him. Mocked him. Embarrassed him. Doubted him. Plotted against him. Questioned his authority. Denied him. Killed him. I’ll bet along the way he also met a few grumps and close talkers and loud chewers. And I bet he loved them too. Because he loves all of us, even in our broken, annoying pettiness. He doesn’t like our sinfulness or our pride or our grumpiness, but he loves us despite everything we bring to the table. He loves through our doubt and anger. He loves us in our brokenness and bitterness. He loves us when we are needy and when we are self-reliant. He might not always like the way we choose to act, but his LOVE never ceases.
Prayer: Father, thank you for loving us despite all the ways we fall short. Help us to learn to love all of those around us, from the least of these to the greatest, because you simply call us to love. Transform our hearts to those around us that we might see them as your perfect creation, desperately loved by you.