8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
For anyone who has read the Bible, this should be an amazing passage. The Bible puts so much importance on faith. Faith is integral and mandatory for our salvation, but based on this passage from 1 Corinthians, God views love as being even greater. How can we as Christians not put love at the forefront of our mission? Many potential culprits are likely responsible for our failure to love. The worst may be the most obvious.
The reality is that we have a hard time loving people we don’t like. We may even believe that liking someone is a prerequisite to loving them. It isn’t. When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who happened to be a proud Christian. He described Christian love as “wanting the best for someone and doing the best for them.” That has always stuck with me because I think it is 100% true. Matthew 25:44-45 says:
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Jesus was telling us that we cannot claim to serve him if we are not willing to help and support those around us. When we see our fellow man in need, we are to do whatever we can for them. Whether we like that person or not should not factor into the situation at all. “Liking a person” is a fleshly matter determined by how well our interests and personality traits pair up with those of the people we encounter. Liking is a matter of how compatible we are as earthly beings, but when we follow Jesus, earthly matters should be less important to us. As believers and followers of Jesus, our love should rise above that. It should be unconditional. You don’t have to like someone to have the love of God for them. That should go without saying. Jesus instructs us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Enemies almost by definition are people we don’t like.
That’s part of what separates true Believers from everyone else. Our human society would tell you it’s ok to dislike your enemies. Maybe that’s true. Even as Believers, we will not always see eye to eye with those around us. Our human society would also tell you it’s ok to hate your enemies. That’s dead wrong. You may never truly come to like your enemies, but you must love them. You must love everyone because God is love and if you don’t know love then you can’t know him (1 John 4:8). Don’t dwell on whether or not you like a person. That doesn’t matter. Pray for everyone you can. Help everyone you can. Share the Gospel with everyone you can. That is love. Fulfill Jesus’ instruction and God’s will. Maybe in the process of doing that, God will reveal common interests with those you dislike, and you will wind up forming true friendships and affinities towards those people. Maybe that won’t happen. Perhaps, even after all your pouring of love onto those people, they’ll still dislike you, and you’ll still dislike them. When all is said and done, you will have obeyed God, and you can never go wrong doing that.