The Bible says We, “Gotta Love, Not Like!”

The Bible says We, “Gotta Love, Not Like!” April 21, 2024

We Gotta Love, Not Like

Not too long ago, a dear friend complained about a sibling to me and a mutual friend. This dear friend’s sibling drove them crazy and said, “I don’t know what they think! They think I’m an idiot! I mean, I know I’m making the right decision. It’s not the decision they would make, but it’s the right decision for me!” Our mutual friend—who also has a strong-minded elder sibling—sat back, crossed their arms, and said, “Ya know, the Bible says we gotta love ‘em; it doesn’t say we gotta like ‘em.”

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We may disagree, battle against, even not like our family. But we are all called to love them.

“What’s Love Gort to Do with It?”

In Greek, there are four distinct words for love, but the one we’re looking at in this missive is “agape” or “sacrificial” love. In many cases, we actually do like the people in our families. And the siblings in that family are willing to do whatever they can to help each other. But there are those times when family friendships break down—the wrong thing is said, the wrong feeling conveyed, jealousy rears its ugly head. What about then?

Is Love Just A “Second-Hand Emotion?”

When we show “agape” love or sacrificial love, there is typically something behind it. There must be a reason to put the time, energy, and sacrifice into the relationship. I know there have been many times when I’ve done things out of agape, looked at the situation I’m in, and asked, “What the (blank) am I doing here?” It isn’t until after the event, with time under the bridge and with space away from the person I’ve helped, that I can say, “Okay, that was the right thing to do.”

Agape is always a two-way street. As an old ranch kid, I can say it’s sort of like working with a herd, only these animals are people and not cattle or sheep. Sometimes, I’m the cattle driver or shepherd, and other times, I’m the bull or ram. The situation is going to change, many times on a dime, and you’d better be ready. When the wolf comes—and they always do—you need to remember you’re not just another hired hand. These are your animals, your friends, your family, and you need to take care of them. You need to take care of each other. For that to happen, there must be some sort of investment in the relationship. If you’re in the military, you automatically have brothers and sisters in arms. You have an invested interest in agape for the fellow soul beside you. If you’re in a club or fraternity/sorority, you have a vested agape interest in what happens to your herd. If you’re in a church family, you also have an agape responsibility to them and they to you. Agape (love) is what we are built for. As St. Therese of Lisieux said in her memoir, “Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else.”

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Jesus, the Good Shepherd, doesn’t always “like” the sheep (you and I) when we go astray. But He loves us enough to go after us when we walk away from the flock.

In a well-known Gospel, John 10, Jesus likens Himself to the “Good Shepherd” who will “lay down His life for [His] sheep.” Jesus never says, “I will lead only My sheep; the rest can go fall off a cliff. I don’t care.” No, He says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock, one Shepherd.” He does not discriminate and say, “Only if I like you…” He does not say, “Only if you pay your way into My good graces…” He does not say, “Only if you have a certain respectable pedigree…” No. He has a “come as you are” policy. Again, He never says, “I have to like you before I love you.” No. Jesus “agape’s” us, even if we don’t deserve it. Even if He doesn’t like what we’re doing.

He doesn’t always like us, but He most certainly always does love us.

About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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