Loving and Liking

Life Notes—January 14, 2010 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples…”   John 13: 34-35  

Jesus uttered these words as his Last Supper with his disciples was coming to a close.  They had eaten; he had washed their feet and was spending what only he knew to be his last moments trying to prepare them for what was to come. 

One of Jesus’ central themes throughout his ministry was loving one another.  In fact it is not a stretch to say Jesus’ life modeled what loving one another is all about.  He often raised eyebrows with his choice of companions.  He seemed drawn to the unpopular and the outcasts—the sick and lame, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers.  He gave his critics much fodder for their attacks.  But he consistently reached out to the unloved and needy, no matter what their other circumstances. 

Strange as it may sound, I am thankful Jesus commanded us to love one another rather than to like one another.  Loving someone requires action and can be forced by an act of will, if necessary.  Liking someone is an emotion and is subject to the ups and downs of hormones and other less-than-stable factors.  Perhaps loving another is easier when we also like them, but it is not required.  Love requires attention to a need—feeding the hungry, arranging shelter for the homeless, providing a shoulder for the brokenhearted—and does not expect anything in return.  Liking usually involves the expectation of some desirable return for our attention.  For me, some people in need are not people I easily or quickly like—they often smell, look or act differently.  Through loving attention to their needs I may or may not also grow to like them.  However, it is through our loving, not liking, deeds we are recognized and distinguished as followers of Christ. 

Does loving someone mean we never encourage them to alter their life path?  Loving a drug abuser surely includes trying to get them into treatment.  As a father, my love sometimes requires corrective action and intervention.  If a dear friend is headed down a path I believe to be dangerous, love demands I let them know.  Husbands, if our wives need loving correction we mustn’t hesitate to…we most certainly…we would simply…well, bad example.  Truly loving interventions are based in uncommon knowledge and wisdom, and are applied carefully and prayerfully. 

This is Reconciling Sunday and will deal with homosexuality, inclusiveness, acceptance and love for all.  Life service is at 10:45 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Contemporary worship at the west campus is at 9:30.  

Come home to worship!  Love is action, like is emotion—experience both this Sunday!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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