“We don’t have to like everybody,” he said, “but as Christians we need to at least be willing to bring a minus five relationship up to a zero, or even a plus one,” he continued, and the listeners nodded in agreement. “We can’t be friends with everyone,” she said after she had been hurt in a painful misunderstanding created by mean gossip that had severed their beautiful friendship. Elizabeth Elliott stated in her book, Discipline - The Glad Surrender, “No sincere Christian can happily accept divisions in the Body of Christ. The longing for unity characterizes the renewed mind.” That’s why Jenna continued to feel pain with the relationship that had been broken. “Going backwards from a friendship to mere acquaintances is not my idea of Christ-like living,” she explained to me.

God keeps sending into our lives the people we don’t like or who don’t like us! We don’t like their personality because it is totally opposite to ours. We don’t like the way they make us feel about ourselves when we are with them. We don’t like their quirky mannerisms, or how they treat others or us. We don’t like the color of their skin; their accent; their station in life; their perceptions. Could it be that the very struggles we have with our own personality, we dislike intensely when we see them demonstrated in someone else’s life? Most of the time, it is a lack of understanding, rather than our differences, which make us dislike another so intensely and sever relationship or refuse to start one.

We are so consumed with ourselves that we are not even aware of how we in fact also treat others. It’s easy to love those who love us! To keep giving the warmth of our love to those who have hurt us deeply, who are sullen, distant, or even withdrawn is much too difficult. Yet as Christians we are required to show others the same kind of mercy and grace that we have received from God. Only He can melt indifferent hearts with His love. Only He can help us appreciate the differences in people. If we open our hearts to those whom we dislike, we may actually find that the person we dislike is someone just like us - with the same hopes, fears, joys, sorrows as well as weaknesses and strengths.

Over the years, my experience has been that God sent exactly a particular person into my life, to open my eyes to my wrong, unloving, or uncaring response. My perception had been often clouded because of fear, insecurity or pride. I forgot that they may 'dislike' me for the same reasons I 'dislike' them. As a growing and maturing believer, I must be open to face and deal with such difficult circumstances. He uses other people, even the ones we dislike, to be a catalyst of change and growth in each of us - as a teaching tool in the U of Life.

Let us not try to absolve ourselves of any responsibility to stretch beyond our comfort zone and heal broken relationships. Let us not close off our heart in self-preservation. How can we love God whom we can’t see, when we won’t even love and learn to like the neighbor we can see, especially someone in the household of faith, the family of God? When we view things through God’s eyes, He can change how we feel about people and circumstances. Someone whom we may perceive as an enemy, a person we dislike, a person of whom we are jealous, God can turn into the best and most loyal of friends, simply because we have allowed and invited Him to mature us through and because of the difficulties we faced in that relationship.

More than enough

Words of truth, spoken without words of grace,
Had shaped his perception. He knew his place.
He didn’t like drinking the dregs from this cup.
He just wasn’t liked; did not measure up;
No matter how hard he had ever tried.
He sat there mulling and often sighed.
He was ignored! Indifferently left on the shelf.
Would he ever be loved just for himself?
Much like Job he too had often been told,
He was to blame for those things of old.
He struggled at times with horrible pain
As ugly, mean thoughts stole his joy once again.
And then one day, while on his knees praying,
It seemed that he heard his dear Master saying,
“I AM the Truth, full of mercy and love,
And grace abundant from your Father above.
I’ll trade you joy for that sorrow inside.
I’ll be your Light; for it’s dark where you hide.
Come; take my hand, my dear, special friend!
I will always stay with you until the end.
If others don’t like you; go, give them My love!
There’ll be in your heart, more than enough!
‘cause I’ll fill your heart to overflowing!
And that’s the way you will surely be growing;
In patience, and gentleness, kindness, and such!
You ARE greatly loved! Now you can love much!”

Karin Ristau

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Hi Karin,

Finally I found your blog again. Long story but I had to shut down I Shall Come Forth As Gold. After waiting and praying I Am Redeemed By The Blood of the Lamb is up and going. Hope you will come by and visit at You got a great post here. How are things up your way? Lord Bless, Cathy Glass