willing to be disliked out of love (Jesus, the exemplar)

 

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

John 1:11

He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Isaiah 53:3

Out of love Jesus did not shun being disliked. In fact the love Jesus had for others made it necessary for him to be disliked, given our proneness to not only resist, but rebel. You hear echoes of this in Paul when he makes it clear that he is not a people pleaser when it comes to telling others the truth of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-10). When it comes to helping others see that truth, yes, then Paul will go out of his way to please others (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Jesus is the pattern for us. He was willing to be entirely disliked, even hated, out of love.

It probably often seems strange to us to experience dislike for what we think are no good if any real reason at all. We can’t see beyond our own limited thoughts and understanding. Maybe the person reacts to us because they are reminded of abuse they went through, perhaps misunderstanding facial expressions or something else about us. Or maybe our actions and words, even though well meaning hit them in a way that is more than uncomfortable to them. And no doubt, unlike our Lord, we do have blind spots and faults along the way, which we should want to see uncovered so that we can confess such as sin, or understand our weakness, and find help from God and others to see necessary change.

But the bottom line here is that we as followers of Jesus, like him, need to be willing to be disliked out of love for others. We ought by God’s grace and Spirit to feel a love in our hearts for others, for all. But at the same time we need to be willing for the good of those people to endure their disliking of us. 

Jesus as a human did feel pain over being disliked, maybe at specific times even by his friends. Surely at least for the moment Peter intensely disliked what Jesus said in either calling him Satan, or addressing Satan behind Peter’s insistence that Jesus should never suffer the death of the cross. True love is not about making one’s self likable because true love wants the best for others. Though we must never try to make ourselves offensive to others. To be liked is nice, but our goal is to find God’s love in Jesus. And to help others find the same. And in doing so we can’t flinch from being disliked along the way.

As we know that all the like in the world will accompany the perfect love of God that all will eventually perfectly experience. In and through Jesus.