14 March 2024 – Revd Susie Collingridge – Area Dean of Petersfield, Priest in Charge of Steep and Froxfield with Privett

Love is…

“I don’t like you!” calls the child. “Aw, honey, don’t you?” he replies, sadly. She giggles. “No, Daddy, I LOVE you!!” and jumps into his arms. I grew up thinking that ‘love’ was a bigger ‘like’: I like broccoli, but I LOVE cheese! I thought that to love something (or someone) you start off by liking them, and that can grow into love… or not.

Maybe you have one or two people in your life that you find it difficult to like? You might have someone who annoys you. Someone you have little in common with. Someone who clearly doesn’t like you. Someone who has hurt you. Someone who still hurts you. Someone you can’t trust. Yet Jesus tells us, ‘Love your enemies’. How on earth does that work? These people might not be ‘enemies’ as such, but they do feel unlikable. If you don’t even like someone, how can you love them?

‘Love your enemies’. Perhaps that means that loving someone (and Jesus wasn’t talking about romantic love, of course) is different from liking them? Maybe it means that you can actually love someone you don’t like. In fact, we can love someone without wanting to spend time with them, or if we can’t be with them. Love isn’t about liking someone a lot. Love isn’t just warm words and happy feelings.

‘Love your enemies’ said Jesus. But how? It is a huge challenge to love people we like very much, and God knows that loving our enemies is even more difficult. Jesus gives us some pointers: ‘Bless them and do good to them. Pray for them’. (Matthew 5:44). How do you love your enemies? Love is a ‘doing word’. Love means acting kindly even when someone does not deserve it. Loving someone (as the Amplified Bible puts it) is ‘unselfishly seeking the best or higher good for them’. However someone treats you, love them anyway, even your worst enemies. Pray for them. Bless them and do good to them. As we work on being more like that, with God’s help we can all do our little bit to make the world a better place, with more goodness in it, where there is more love than hate.