Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbour; act as if you did...
When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
If you injure someone you dislike, you'll find yourself disliking him more.
Do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less...
~ C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
Of course, there's a slight catch ~ Lewis tells us further that doing a good turn to just obey the laws of charity or only to impress God isn't what the rule of love is all about. We are to treat others as equals in the sight of God. Will we fall head over heels with everyone ~ no! But we can care for them anyway and begin to love them ~ or at least like ~ even if they don't love/like us back or drip gratitude all over any of our attempts at good deeds. Oh and, remember we are told by Jesus in the Summary of the Law [in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke] to love our neighbors as ourselves, that is, as if that neighbor is my self, me. Sometimes we do love our neighbors as, in the same way that, we love ourselves, so, perhaps, while working on loving that grumpy, annoying, irritating, over-extroverted or over-introverted, terribly driving, late night partying, “get off my lawn” neighbor, we need to examine ourselves more deeply within. Perhaps what we don’t like most in others is what we don’t like most in ourselves. It might help if I keep in mind that the only person I can change is me.
Earth-Maker, Pain-Bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven...
It is always easier to do good things for people I love and like. It is downright difficult and even unpleasant to attempt to do nice things for someone I dislike and all the harder if the dislike is intense! Sigh....Ok, it's Lent, a time to try on new behaviors, new ways of living into the love of Christ. SO, for today, I'll take a deep breath and give up looking down on people I have decided for some reason that I don't like. I'll take on looking at all people through a different lens, seeing them as children of God just as I am. At the very least a kind word with no desire for or expectation of return would be a start. I'll pray for the tranquility to leave the details of who is right/wrong/good/bad to God. All I need to do is love others as if they are myself (and figuring out just how do I love myself) ~ and seeing myself and another as equal in the eyes of You, our Eternal God. I will definitely need some help with this so You and I will be talking about this again. amen.
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) held the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University in England and is considered a significant Christian writer of his time. An author of more than 30 books, he is probably best known today for The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters.
*The beginning of an alternative to the Lord's Prayer in A New Zealand Prayer Book