Updated: Jul 16, 2021
It’s not easy to always agree with someone. It’s not easy to like how people act when it goes against our own beliefs or ideas. I’m sure everyone has had a moment where they didn’t like someone so much to the point where it’s drawn anger, frustration, and even high emotions. Yet Jesus teaches us to love one another and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Matthew 22:39.
As a mother, wife, daughter and woman, I admit there are times where I come face to face with those who make me mad and upset, even those who I love and care about. So how can I love my neighbor when their actions are frustrating, when they themselves aren’t showing love?
Lately I’ve struggled with a personal relationship with someone I love (whom I will keep private). I love this person but I don’t always like them. I don’t like their actions or behaviors. But I care deeply about them. There are many places in the bible that define love and I struggled with the idea that while I need to love do I need to like? I started looking up google searches for biblical quotes about liking our others but every time I did, the word love would come up instead. So how can I define the difference of love and like and have this frustration in my heart. I’ve prayed over this struggle and two bible verses kept reappearing to me 1 John 4 (“Beloved, let us love one another…”) and 1 Corinthians 13 (“Love is patient, love is kind…”) I have read both of these many of times in my life and each time my definition of love continues to expand. I even spoke with a priest friend about this.
What struck me in both of these passages is that God loves me no matter what, his love is unchanging. The difference between love and like is that love has no conditions. While God’s love is unconditional, “to like” means to sets limits. What I also noticed is what the passages DIDN’T say. God doesn’t say,” I kind of like you and only during the times you’re doing what I ask.” God doesn’t say “I will only love you if you’re perfect.” God loves me if I mess up, if I have a bad hair day, if I do sinful actions. God loves me in all my wrong doings and imperfections. And God does not love me more because I’m a Christian than he loves an atheist. He loves all.
However, God does not always like our actions, but his love works through this. He sent his Son to overcome our sinful ways. The difference between love and like is that love is enduring, love is unconditional.
Going back to my own person relationships I look to these passages and try to remember I don’t have to like the actions or the words of others. I may even be angry at them, but that doesn’t mean I stop loving them. And yet through love, I have to choose to show actions of love not actions of like, because the actions of like mean the actions of conditions.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.