I was talking with a friend from church last night and we got to talking about the topic of “brokenness”.
This friend of mine referenced Psalm 51:17 “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – and then he said a phrase which I found particularly interesting: “My God likes broken people.”
He wasn’t saying that God likes to break people – he was saying that, much rather than despising broken people, the God of the Bible actually likes them, in the sense of having affinity for them.
That reminded me of something: We as Christians tend to use the word “love” so much that it can lose it’s impact and weight; and even though “love” is supposed to be more than “like”, it would seem that because of our overuse, and perhaps mis-portrayal of the nature of “love”, “like” might actually have more significance to it.
Here’s what I mean: I have heard Christians say things to this effect: “I guess I have to love that person because I’m a Christian… but I sure don’t like them!”
I think that many times we even portray God’s love as a begrudging obligation which he has to do, but that doesn’t mean he has to “like” you! For example: “Well, I’m sure God loves that person (because He’s God and He doesn’t have a choice because He has to love everybody…) but I’m sure that God LIKES me more than He likes that person…”
When we portray love as a dutiful thing which God and Christians are required to do, even if they don’t want to, “liking” people is what is left (at least in this perspective) to a person’s choice. It is in this sense that it actually means more to “like” someone than it does to “love” someone, because loving them is an obligation, but liking them is a choice.
I believe that God’s message to us would be: I don’t only love you, but I even like you! I like the unique person I’ve made you to be! I may not like your faults, but I came and died for those things, so that they could be put to death and the person I created you to be could be revealed to an ever-increasing degree.
Furthermore, I believe that God would call us to not only “love” people out of obligation and duty, something you begrudgingly have to do, but I believe that God would call us to genuinely like people, choosing to have affinity for them and the unique people that God created them to be.
The other important area this gets into is the understanding that “Love”, as described in the Bible, is not primarily a feeling, but an action. To truly love someone is to will and to act for their good. Liking someone, on the other hand, is a feeling rather than an action.
Where our culture has gotten things mixed up is that we forget that love is primarily an action, not an emotion, and the result of this is that we end up contriving “loving” feelings for people for whom we feel no affinity. What is required of us is not the feeling of affinity, but the action of love. However, it is my experience that the feelings of affinity are one of the direct results of actions of love.
God showed his love for you in this: that while you were yet at enmity with him, he gave his son for you. Why? Because he wanted to save you and spend eternity with you. Why? Because he actually likes you.