Is Loving Enough?

By Tim Henderson

A friend wrote the following: I’ve heard that love is a verb, not a feeling. It’s something we do, a choice we make. That’s an important thing to understand if you plan to love your enemy, or even just your neighbor. This jives well with the other proverb I’ve heard. I don’t have to like you, I just have to love you. I guess that liking in that scenario is the feeling and love is the doing. The point is, we must choose to act in love even in the absence of positive feelings toward others.

I wonder, though, if the real force of Christian teaching isn’t undermined by the idea of loving without liking. Looking at myself, suspicion arises when the enormous feeling of relief follows the realization. I can still despise you? Loath you? All I have to do is take the moral high road and treat you nice? Whew, that was a close one. Now, I’ll admit, treating an enemy with love is no small thing. But somehow it’s not as hard if I don’t have to stop feeling disgust, scorn, resentment or animosity.

Maybe that is the sense of Jesus’ comparison of murder with anger, insult, and contempt. Maybe it’s not so easy to compartmentalize emotion and action. Maybe like is a verb too.

Great thoughts. Here is what I added: I think like follows love. That is why love is first. Often I will not love someone if I have to like them first. When I truly love, I then come to like the person that fear, prejudice and ignorance once prevented me from liking. As I grow in Christ I desire to have a smaller gap between loving and liking. Someday I may even follow Jesus in the ability to love and like at the same time.

May you find someone more likable today. See them as Jesus sees them.