A Question I Was Asked:

Does Being a Christian Mean I Have to Like Everybody?

The Question:

Please explain what Biblical Love is. I believe it is "action" and not necessarily "emotion." But, as Christians, are we supposed to "like" everyone also? If so, I'm not sure I can live up to that command. Thanks and may God bless you and yours.

UK Apologetics Reply:

From the 'romantic movement' onwards, we have all tended to develop a rather compliant, weak, overly-emotional and 'soppy' view of "love," that is, as compared to the biblical model. Liberalism has further encouraged a view of 'love' as being somewhat weak and something which is quick to give people what they want; indeed, liberals have never been interested in good, strong character traits. In complete contrast, God's love includes the principles of justice and judgment and it cannot be divorced from the principle of good, strong character, so it is nothing like the 'romantic' or liberal view of 'love.' The love of God is much less emotional, far more balanced and has a view to responsibility. It also lasts because it is not subject to the highs and dips of temporary human emotion, although emotion does play a part. It could be stated that the love of God has a long-term perspective which it remains commited to; it is concerned with an unselfish outgoing concern and commitment to those made in God's very image. But it is nothing to do with 'liking' every single person whom we meet, neither is that even possible.

There are many facets to God's quality of love. As an example, if a woman claims to 'love' her husband but regularly refuses him sexual love (a vital part of marital love, in God's view), her love could be more habit and emotion than the 'love' which should be present. God expects Christian husbands and wives to show a real commitment to each other.

Modern society says that you and I should do 'what is right for us,' that is, as long as we feel individually 'fulfilled,' no further questions need be asked. So it should be clear how the modern concept of 'love' - under the influence of the poets and the 'romantic movement,' as well as under the influence of liberalism - has changed and is markedly different to the biblical understanding. The modern concept of love is more immediate and more selfish. This has even affected Christians; many Christians now believe that we must go around 'loving everybody' in a somewhat non-judging, shallow and soppy way, but such is not Christian love, although we should always be prepared to believe the best about people and to strive to be pleasant and friendly.

Are Christians, then, expected to 'like' everybody? That is not going to happen because sometimes we are temperamentally very different to certain people and it is hard to identify with them. if we are honest, we would not choose every single person whom we meet as a friend. Even among Christians there are sometimes problems with certain individuals. Many years ago I had to work with an authority figure in a church whom - frankly - I really did not like, but I was prepared to cooperate with him, help him and to serve him, but I knew from very early on that I would never be able to look upon him as a friend, neither did I. Yet Tina and I still pray for him and his wife (who is sadly now very sick).
Robin A. Brace. July 1st, 2011.