Liking Your Neighbor

Check out Shannon Quay’s post from the Relevant Magazine website challenging us to not just to love our neighbor, but to like our neighbor.  Amen.  Some ten years ago or so I preached a sermon Like Never Faileth.  The church I served at the time had the words Love Never Faileth emblazoned on the wall above the altar.  I guess I was a bit cynical about love at the time.  I identified more with the old J. Giles song, Love Stinks, than Paul’s love poem to the Corinthians. While it may be true that God’s love never fails, our human love is too often impatient and unkind.

I agree with Shannon:

Christians, at least the ones that I spend a significant amount of time with, like to say things like, “You don’t have to like people to love them.” This seems like a nice, backdoor remedy to being annoyed with that guy who makes the offhand political jokes about the guy you voted for and still feeling like an upstanding believer, but I don’t think that it’s true. When I don’t like someone, I don’t go out of my way for him. I don’t care about her more than myself.  I don’t attempt to bear his burdens. I am not patient. I am not kind.  Call me crazy, but I think you have to like people if you ever want to love them.

Honestly, do you really want to hear from someone, “I love you, but I just don’t like you.”  Please!  In that sermon, I preached that like never fails.  That is, when we find our way to really like someone, then we are inclined to respond to them with love.  The challenge then is to like people.  Easier said than done, right?

I have a doctor friend in Berkeley, California who treats senior citizens in a public health setting.  I once had this conversation with her about liking people who seem quite unlikable.  She said that she looks for one genuine connection with everyone she meets.  She described one elderly man who was always disagreeable and angry.  He never seemed happy and criticized everyone including my doctor friend.  She tried and tried to find some honest connection with this man and finally found it, his shoes!  She really liked his shoes and shoe told him so, “Mr. Philpot, those are great shoes you have on!”  He lit up immediately; the relationship was transformed.

Read Quay’s reflection and share your thoughts.

Liking Your Neighbor

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Published in: on March 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. George:

    This is a very tricky thing. Martin Luther King would claim that he *loved*, even if he didn’t always *like* those people that intentionally oppressed Blacks in the old deep South with fire-hoses, etc. He also said that he didn’t like their *actions*. It’s hard to know which he meant more. Still, there are people who, for whatever reasons, genetically are disposed to pretty much like everybody. I’d like to think I’m one of *them*, but *evil* — which I also see frequently — is also real on occasion.

    Peace,

    John


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