There are people who I have met that I enjoy being around right away. There are others who I meet and it takes me a while to warm up to them, but once I do I like hanging around them. Then there are others who I did not like when I first met them, did not like after meeting them a second time, and now years later, having met and hung out with them numerous times, I still do not enjoy spending time with them. What is and what should be my response? I have had people say to me, “you are a pastor, your job is to like everyone,” but I would disagree. There are some people, for whatever reason, that I just don’t like. Personalities clash, differences of opinions, and many other factors contribute to why I, or you, would not like someone. This is a reality. Mandating “liking” someone (i.e. to say that it is a job), is impossible because how a person feels about another person is very subjective. Unfortunately we often confuse Jesus’ call to love others with a call to like them – and this is not the case. Loving others requires much more work and is not subjective; loving others is the call of God. When Mother Teresa loved the poorest of the poor and helped them to die well, it could not have been because she really liked them for there was not much to “like” about them. When Jesus called saw the multitudes crowding around him, or the soldiers beating him, or the sick and dying crying out to him, he did not respond because he liked them. However, the Scriptures are very clear that in his response to the people around him Jesus, “had compassion on them,” in others words, “he loved them.” The command by God to love the other is not subjective, it is each and every Christian’s call.

 

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