Do I have to like everybody?

Here's a question people ask a lot when they think about friendship.

"I have to love everyone... but do I have to like everyone? ...And what’s the difference?"

Sometimes this question means: do I have to treat everyone like my best friend?

Well, no. Different people will fall into different spaces - public, social, personal and intimate. It's a matter of loving them where they are.

When Jesus was asked the question ‘what is the greatest commandment’ he said love God and love your neighbour as yourself. On one level you could understand that to mean you should be best friends with the whole world. Which is completely exhausting and unfeasible.

But then he told the story about the Good Samaritan. What space did that story happen in? Public space, primarily.

Loving your neighbour doesn’t necessarily mean being personally or intimately close to everyone you come across. But it does mean treating everyone with respect, generosity and love appropriate to the space you find yourself in.

You may not like someone in your social space... but that’s no excuse for being cruel or rude, or ignoring them, or paying them out, or gossiping about them.

And if you find yourself in a position to help the person that you don’t like, loving your neighbour requires that you do just that!

So the answer is: no, you don’t have to like everybody. But you do have to love them. And there is a difference.