“Is it a Sin to not like someone?” That was the question I typed into Google this morning. We all have them, people in our lives who rub us the wrong way, or with whom we simply have a personality conflict. And it was something I was struggling with myself. What I read coincided with what I already knew in my heart, that these types of situations in our lives are both a blessing and a curse. They are an opportunity for temptation, and sin to take root in our hearts. But they are also a means for us to overcome that, and allow God’s love to work in our hearts.
In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like unto it; Love your neighbor as yourself.“ I think most of us understand that loving your neighbor means treating people kindly, respectfully, the way you would want to be treated. Every interaction we have in our lives is a means for us to demonstrate, and share the love of Christ with the world around us; at the grocery store, the bank, the Tim Horton’s drive thru.
I also think we can apply this same logic and reasoning to people to have a more significant role in our lives. You aren’t required to have an intimate or close relationship with someone you don’t like, but you do need to treat them respectfully, kindly, gently. It’s easy when you don’t like someone to speak badly of them, to want to convince others to share your feelings because, we feel justified in our feelings if we aren’t alone in them. But part of loving you neighbor is not doing that. It’s about working to recognize the good qualities in that person, and the positive ways that they impact people in their own lives. And it’s about praying, asking God to help you see that person in a new way; the way He sees them. Maybe we aren’t called by God to like everyone, but we are absolutely called by God to love everyone.
This Lenten season I can feel God calling on me to examine the ways in which I allow sin to take root in my own heart. I can feel him calling on me to examine the ways in which my interactions and relationships with others are, and are not, reflective of how he wants me to live. I can feel temptation tapping me on the shoulder in my relationships. And I know that it is simply not possible for me to defeat it alone. I can only cling to God, pray that he guides my heart and my words, shows me where I can be better, and strengthens me in the face of temptation. Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves, our behaviors, and our hearts. I thank God for his patience with me, that in the face of all my stumbling and groping around, he continues to love me, and that he fills me with his unfailing love, so that I can pour that out in my own interactions.
It’s easy to forget that the point of life is this journey; this process of coming to know God. It’s about two steps forward and one step back. And the people in our lives, our daily interactions are so often the cause of both. That’s why a life of faith is such a difficult road to walk. But, if we listen to Jesus, and love our Father with all of our heart, and soul, and mind, then he will help us with everything else, including loving our neighbor.