It is called Bigfoot – a huge ape-like creature that some believe inhabits forests in North America. For many years there have been supposed sightings. People claim to have personally seen this mysterious creature and found evidence, such as large unusual footprints. Even though most of the supposed sightings and gathered evidence have been proven to be hoaxes, people still believe. As you read this, someone is likely hunting for Bigfoot.
I thought about the search for Bigfoot when I read this familiar line from this week’s Sabbath school lesson on Love and the Law, “we are to love even those we don’t like.” I’ve heard this expression many times over the years but like the search for Bigfoot, I’ve yet to find the biblical evidence of that position.
I started my search at the extreme end of the spectrum of those I encounter – my enemies. I thought for sure I might find a reference to loving but not liking those who would do me harm.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45
No, I didn’t find it there. What I did find about loving my enemies was absolutely foreign to the natural order of things. From a human standpoint it is inconceivable to love an enemy the way Jesus commanded us to.
Since I didn’t find the evidence in my relations with my enemies I thought I might have success in finding the proof in my dealings with strangers.
And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34
Struck out again. Since I didn’t find this permission in dealing with my enemies or strangers I decided to search closer to home – my church family. Certainly, with all of the close interactions with my brethren, it would be allowable to take the position that I love them but not like some of them.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:9-14
Again, nothing that gives me permission to say I love you but I don’t like you. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible is clear that we should be careful and circumspect in our associations. Consider the following:
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. Romans 16:17-19
But I have yet to find that elusive proof that it is ok to love you but at the same time in my heart to have ill feelings towards you.
Jesus has always asked man to do the (seemingly) impossible. And nothing is more core to the message of Christ and Christianity than love.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
In my opinion it would be preposterous to suggest that Jesus loves us but He does not like us. His earthly life was a real-time demonstration of that divine love.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8
You may be asking how this is possible. Another man a long time ago named Nicodemus asked the same question to Jesus. Here is the Master’s reply.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does the word “love” mean to you?
- What does it mean to you to love someone but not like them?
- Is it possible to have love for the worst individuals in life such as those that commit violent and detestable acts against humanity? Why yes or no?
- Describe how you believe Jesus felt about Judas and those who participated in His crucifixion?
- Does Romans 13:7, Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor, prove that we should treat some people differently? Explain your answer.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The closer my relationship with Christ becomes, the less I will “not like” anyone. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson by quoting the words of the Apostle Paul. He was a man who realized that God gives to those who love Him grace to do the (seemingly) impossible, including loving our enemies.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!