Skip to main content

Whether We Like It Or Not

It's been a while since I've blogged, and I could blame a lot of things, but the most honest answer may be that I just didn't have anything that I needed to say until now.  It feels good to be writing again, not like riding a bike, more like picking up an old guitar again only to find your callouses have gone and your fingers sting with pain.  It might be awkward, but darn it, I'm gonna do this!

I had a conversation recently that made me think about two words, love and like.  Someone I know is having a difficult time loving a person that has appeared in their life.  I say they are having a difficult time loving this person, because I'm pretty sure they certainly don't like the person.  To hear my friend talk, it sounds as though their dislike of this person is bleeding into a spirit of not loving this person.  It got me thinking:

Should our like for someone ever determine our love for them?

In the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke specifically), Jesus is asked what he considers the greatest commandment.


Ever the rebel, he responds with two.  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength... and the other one is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself."  Everything, he says, rests upon these two commands.  And it's not like he says, "Love the Lord your God... in the safest, most comfortable, least sacrificial ways possible" or "Love your neighbor as yourself... unless that guy's a total jerk or weird or annoying, then forget it, treat him however you want."

Loving God requires we get over ourselves.

Loving our neighbors requires we get past the "like" factor.

Jesus says these two commands--notice they are not suggestions--are closely related.  Why would loving God have anything to do with loving my jerky, weird, annoying neighbors?  Well, it has something to with a little thing called imago dei (pronounced ee-MAH-go day).  It's Latin for "the image of God," and it is something Christians believe every person is born with.  This doesn't necessarily mean we physically resemble God (we all look pretty different after all), rather it speaks to something deep within us, a thread that runs from God through all of humanity.

This thread is a uniting force that connects you and me and everyone who has ever walked this earth.  It's something built into the very fiber of our being that immediately makes us recognizable as belonging to God.  It's why the scriptures refer to God as Father and Mother.  Guess what that makes us?


Now I know that word is not a positive one to everyone.  I know that families can be ugly, messed up, abusive, broken, and the last thing in the world you may want.  You may think family is the last place to find Love.  But we're not talking about a family as we know it.  We're talking about God's family.

And like it or not, you are a beloved child of God.

And like it or not, that makes us family.  In God's family, that means we love each other, wholly, fully, and unconditionally.

Whether we like it or not.

So find the "neighbor" in your life, the one who you really, really don't like.  Find it in your heart to love them anyways.  Love them in a way that goes beyond safe or comfortable and instead becomes sacrificial.  Make it mean something.  When you feel it in your heart, mind, soul, and strength, you're probably doing it right.


Popular posts from this blog

On Uniting Methodists: A "Fixed and Free" Romans 14 Church

This past week, the local church I serve, Lovers Lane UMC, hosted a gathering of area clergy and lay leaders interested in learning more about a movement called "Uniting Methodists." Leading the presentation and ensuing discussion were Rev. Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn UMC in Dallas, and Rev. Dr. Stan Copeland of Lovers Lane.

I respect both of these leaders immensely; Rachel was actually my children's pastor when I was in the 6th grade at W.C. Martin UMC in Bedford, TX, and Stan has been my boss and mentor for the better part of the last decade. That respect was shared by the room as far as I could tell, and it was their presence together on stage that likely sparked more than a little curiosity amongst those who came. 

The sight of them sitting together on stage perhaps sums up Uniting Methodists in one image. On the left (literally and figuratively), a young, progressive, woman with clerical collar, black plastic glasses, and dreads pulled neatly into a bun. On the righ…

Why I Loved Daniel and Hated Job

I used to hate the book of Job.

There, I said it.  I know some of you might be in shock that I--a seminarian, a pastor, a future ordained elder--would actually hate a book of the Bible.  But it's true, for the longest time I just could not stand the story of a man whose life get's worse and worse and worse, simply because God wanted to prove something to Satan... or something like that.*

Which is funny because my wife absolutely loves the book of Job.  It's her favorite in the entire Old Testament, and I could not understand why for the longest time.  It's just so dadgum depressing.  A man's life starts out so wonderful, so full of blessing and grace, and slowly falls apart until nothing is left but his faith.  And I know, I know, at the end he gets back double what he had before, but that's a few verses at the end of chapters and chapters of misery.

Not like Daniel.  The story of Daniel is a book that starts out with destruction and judgement and nothing but …

Israel Trip Days 10-11

By: Scott Gilliland

I've just realized my title for these blogs is partially incorrect.  I'm surprised it took me until now to realize that they should have been titled "Israel/Palestine Trip," out of consideration for the two distinct peoples that occupy this land officially known as "Israel."  These last two days we have been based in Bethlehem, which sits just inside the West Bank (named for it's geographical location on the western bank of the Jordan River, which is actually on the eastern border of Israel, which is super confusing, but whatever...), so I've become acutely aware of the distinct differences between the Israeli and Palestinian territories.  But I digress, more on that in a later post.

We began Day 9 by leaving Nazareth bright and early to make our way down the eastern edge of the country, through the West Bank, along the Jordan River, with Bethlehem as our ultimate goal.  We stopped first in Jericho to see the Mount of Temptation …