“I love you but I don’t like you.” Has anyone ever said this seemingly rhetoric line to you? The first time someone threw that on me I was a little puzzled and felt funny about it. The second time was during an ice-breaking question in a Bible-study group where I was asked if I’d choose to be loved or liked by people. The third was when I had some friends over to our house for dinner and someone brought up this line for a casual discussion. I questioned the group if it was ever possible to love someone without actually liking him or her. “Well, also the opposite of like is dislike, right?” I added to my question. Now, is it therefore possible for a person to love and dislike a person at the same time?
In the context of Christian fellowship someone might argue that the person concern is not worthy of being liked because of some negative issues or attitudes or some flaw in his/her character. But because the Lord has called us to love one another we could therefore love that person without actually liking him/her. I personally find this saying, this statement rather contradictory. Here’s why. You see when you dislike someone there has to be at least one reason why. And whatever the reason, the Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins. And if you truly love that person then you’d be willing to cover his sins or his shortcomings – the reasons for which you disliked him. And when you cover his sins or weaknesses then you can’t continue to dislike him. For if you do then you’re still holding it against him. Of course, we may dislike the sins in his life, his uncomely behavior, his weaknesses and such other negative traits in his character. And that’s also exactly why when we say we like a particular person we’re actually referring to some aspects of his character, behavior or attitude which are appealing and beautiful in nature. So in that sense, love has to do with a person as a whole while like has to do with certain aspects of that person. Love is more subjective while like more objective.
The Bible doesn’t say, “For God so liked the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” It’s because He loved the world. He loved us. He didn’t like the sins and darkness in which we were wallowing and dying and yet out of love for us, He rescued us. That’s what love does and it should be no different with us, His children. Now you know God loves you. And it’s on the basis of His amazing love towards us that He not only bears with our sins and weaknesses but also ardently deals with them so that the things He dislikes in us transform and is replaced with the things He likes and enjoys in us.
Have you ever clicked on the “Like” button for a post in Facebook only to realize, after contemplation, that it actually doesn’t deserve a like and then you change your mind and click the “Like” button again in order to undo it? Some will even jest, “Where’s the “dislike” button?” Similarly, because people can change, our likes and dislikes are therefore subject to change not for the person as a whole but for certain traits in his life. Love shouldn’t change.
God may like or dislike certain things in our lives but His loves for us endures forever. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” He says.
Love endures. Likes and dislikes don’t.