Can I Really Love You Even if I don’t Like You?

If you are a Facebook user then you are familiar with the like button that is often used.  It is really very simple.  On your Facebook page, you are encouraged to write out your current status.  What that means is that you can share what you are doing, thinking, or anything else that might be on your mind.  Your friends are then offered two options.  They can click the “like” button, or they can add their own  “comment.”  Comments can be words of support, wise cracks (which I tend to offer), questions, long tirades, or anything else you might feel inclined to say after reading the status of the other person.  It is often quite interesting. 

However, clicking the “like” button is not so clear.  What does that actually mean?  It might be that you are glad to hear what the person had to say, you thought it was funny or clever, you want to be supportive but not take the time to actually write out a comment, or who knows what.  It is giving an electronic thumbs-up sign.  It always feels good to get a “like” from a friend even if you don’t know the reason. 

I like to be liked and I suspect you do as well. 

Being liked is a good thing.  The need to be liked is probably part of the human condition.  It begins early, as far back as we can remember to childhood days and we wanted the other kids to like us.  In school, it was important to be “popular,” a word that means to be liked by a lot of people.  Even as we mature, it is a good thing to want to be liked.  If someone does not care to be liked then they are probably living as a recluse with bad breath and body odor. 

I am no psychologist, but maybe one of the reasons Facebook works so well is that it provides a measure of how well liked we are.  I have nearly 400 Facebook Friends and whenever I post something, I usually get some response.  It is an immediate barometer of how well I am liked. 

The dictionary definition of the word “like” offers numerous examples.  However, it seems that they can be divided into two categories.  “Like” can be used to describe similarities, something is like something else.  Or, it can mean to be fond of or to enjoy, as in I like something. 

As Christians, we tend to use the word “love” rather than “like.”  It feels more spiritual to say “I love another person,” than to say, “I like them.”  However, we do not use them interchangeably.  We will say things like, “I love you, but I don’t have to like you.”  I wonder if we say that because we know we are suppose to love everyone but the reality is that we just do not like some people. 

I am aware of the definition of the biblical term “agape,” and that it means to love sacrificially and is not a reference to sexual love or friendship love.  It is a much deeper kind of love than what the world typically identifies as love, which is more akin to infatuation or messy emotions. 

Before we get bogged down in nuances, let me pose a question:  Is it possible to love someone and not like them?  Don’t answer this too quickly.  Think about those whom you obviously love – spouse, parent, close friend, etc.  We have a tendency to like those that we truly love.  We might not like everything they do, but if we really love them, we like to be with them on occasion.

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