I think the source of a lot of the harm Christians do is the belief that you can love someone without liking them first.
Lately, I’ve questioned the idea of loving someone you dislike. We say that all the time, usually with reluctance or nonchalance. “I mean, I love them, but I don’t like them, you know?”
Translation: “Don’t judge me or call me a bad Christian, but I’m done making an effort with this person.”
Isn’t that how it goes?
We don’t want to straight up say that we hate people, because when do you ever hear a Christian confess to hating anything except for sin? But we so often do. God doesn’t ask us to blindly parrot around something if we don’t really believe it—“Hate? oh no, I love everyone!”
Maybe you don’t harbor a steaming level of vitriol towards someone, but is there anything beyond semantics separating hatred from “strong dislike”? If you cannot stand to be in someone’s presence, avoid them, and give them the metaphorical back of your hand in every conversation, what’s the difference between that and hate? Hatred is not just frothing rage that leads to violence.
Hatred is dehumanizing, and causes you to reduce a person to not a human being but an annoying idiosyncrasy, or a whiny voice, or a religious belief you condemn.
Hate gives up on the idea of a person and wants more than anything for that person to not exist within the sphere of your life.
I’ve been there with people that I wished I didn’t have to see. I’m not proud of it, but am thankful for the realization so I could at least begin to pray that that could be taken away from me.
Get real, with others and with your faith. You do not love everyone, and that’s the point. God wants us to come to Him in acknowledgement of the people we cannot love on our own so that we can beseech Him to make us able to love them more fully, to love them as He does.
We need to stop saying “I love them, but I don’t really like them.” You can’t love them without liking them. Some Christians don’t realize this because they don’t recognize and identify with the humanity of those they don’t like, but love does not have anything to do with dislike. It is the opposite of dislike.
Love is edifying and gracious and forgiving, and if you dislike someone, you’re probably failing in at least one of those areas.
The admission doesn’t make you a bad Christian. It makes you one step closer to the freedom that comes from releasing your bitterness and dislike towards people. Let go of the guilt of hating them and the frustration of being stuck around them. Learn to love them as God does.