Let’s not kid ourselves, friends: Everyone has people that they quite plainly and nearly irrevocably do not want to see.
It’s a fact of life that there will be others who rub us the wrong way or get on every nerve possible and some we didn’t know existed. You physically, emotionally, and/or mentally cannot stand them. Simply put, you don’t like them. If you were six years old, they would not be invited to your birthday party.
These people can be anyone. Family members, distant relatives, friends-of-friends, acquaintances, fellow church members, teammates, coworkers, the list goes ever on and on. That wacky cousin. That weird guy at church. That person who you barely know but makes you uncomfortable for reasons you’re not even aware of. The Bible talks consistently on enemies; that we are to love them, and while we may not consider these people to be enemies in the Batman-and-Joker sense, we avoid conversation or interaction with them at all costs. Although we’re running low on Batcaves to hop in when they come near, our aversion tactics are spectacular when it comes to these particular people.
Of course, this is not how God intended us to act. As fun as it would be to blast a hole through the ceiling and escape via helicopter whenever we are imposed upon, Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” A large component I find in my own dislike of certain individuals stems from my pride, believing myself to be better than they are in some mannerism or characteristic. I get snappy, condescending, and brief. While keeping up a facade of politeness, inside I cannot wait to retrieve myself from the situation and get out of Dodge.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
As the Bible also tells us, love is patient and love is kind, and we are given more than we could ever hold within us through Jesus. There is more than enough to spread around. In some cases, love is a natural action, and in others, it feels like a chore. Regardless of our personal feelings on the matter, love can surpass our pride, anger, irritation, discomfort, dislike, weariness, and weakness.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
Loving despite of our human failings and petty emotions is a staple of Christianity. It should be how we identify ourselves to the world and each other, although too often it’s the opposite.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Continue a conversation with someone whose company you don’t enjoy. Treat each other the same. If you are indeed six years old, invite them to your birthday party. If God can love our messed-up sinful disrespectful little selves beyond our comprehension, we can give hugs and shake hands with genuine smiles on our faces.
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” – Romans 13:8