Do We Have to Like People in Order to Love Them?

Do We Have to Like People in Order to Love Them?

As Christians, we are called to love. Jesus was crystal clear about this when He told His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35)

So we must love one another, but do we have to like one another? Recently, on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ was discussing an article from ChurchPOP and he reflected on the concept of liking people vs. loving them. Fr. Matthew said:

“It’s not that being nice is bad. It’s that nice is not enough. It’s not good enough to just be nice to people, and it’s not good enough to just give people smiles. You have to love them. You have to go deeper than just being nice.

When I was in the seminary, one of my really great seminary professors used to talk about a similar point. He used to say he gets tired of people saying ‘Well, I love you but it’s hard for me to do.’ He said, ‘What ever happened to liking people?’

Because we kind of wash our hands of that and we say, ‘I don’t have to like you. I have to love you and I’m going to love you. But I don’t have to like you. And I don’t have to like that I have to love you.’ It’s like we lower the bar of what it is to love.

I’m not saying that love is equal to liking. To love is much deeper than that. And probably to love people includes doing your best to like them. Obviously you can’t create emotions inside of you – ultimately our emotions are outside our control.  And so you can’t always control when you’re going to like something.

But do you know what I’ve noticed? You can actually help yourself learn to like people, and be kind to people, and be compassionate, by identifying the good things about people. Usually when we don’t like somebody, we focus on the fact that we don’t like them.

If I don’t like you I’m going to keep noticing your faults, I’m going to keep noticing the different ways that you don’t  satisfy what I think you should be doing. It’s this cycle of, ‘If I don’t feel that I like you, I’m going to continue looking, and identifying and noticing those things that I don’t like about you.

But maybe we break the cycle by recognizing those quirky things about each other that don’t really rub me the right way, but I can laugh about and appreciate and recognize the goodness behind it. That’s going to lead us to loving somebody better, because we’re going to understand them better.”

Listen to the full segment below:

St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Pacific.