Do Christians have to like everyone?
What if they're really annoying or you just don't get on very well?
Here’s a question you might have asked before.
“As a Christian I know I have to love everyone... but do I have to like everyone? And anyway, what’s the difference?”
Sometimes this question means: do I have to treat everyone like my best friend?
It’s interesting that when Jesus was asked the question ‘what is the greatest commandment?’ (Luke 10) he answered by quoting from the Old Testament, “love God and love your neighbour as yourself”.
That could sound like having a lot of best friends. It seems a little exhausting.
I think that’s what the people around him thought, because they seemed very keen to clear up exactly what he meant. Their very next question was, “Who is my neighbour?” and it brought out the very famous Good Samaritan story.
But think back to the story. The Samaritan picked the man up and found help for him, but he left once he knew the man was in good hands. Loving his neighbour didn’t include forcing his way in to the man’s life and becoming his best friend.
Loving your neighbour doesn’t necessarily mean being personally close to everyone you come across. But it does mean treating everyone with respect, generosity and love appropriate to the different kinds of relationships you find yourself in.
You may not like someone but that’s no excuse for being cruel or rude, or ignoring them, or avoiding them, or paying them out, or gossiping about them. And if you find yourself in a position to help that person that you don’t like, loving your neighbour requires that you do just that! That may mean standing up for them against teasing or being polite when your peers are being rude, or giving someone a chance.
So the answer is: no, you don’t have to ‘like’ everybody and treat them as your best friend. But you do have to love them. And there is a difference.