“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him… There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed.”C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Is often easy to tell when a person is being fake. We want to be genuine in our interactions. But sometimes we encounter someone – even a child – that we have difficulty loving. They may have a unpleasant personality. They may even be disrespectful or ungrateful. It may be genuine to avoid that person every time we see them in the hallway, or be snippy in our required interactions. But isn’t that just genuine to our lower natures?
We are called to act as Christ would – and for that we must always be pushing away from our current nature and towards our potential. We should genuinely be trying to love them. This is not wearing a fake smile that we pull down as soon as they pass us; it is seeking the Love of God. The Christian belief is that we are all made in the image of God, all loved by our common Creator. Therefore, there must be something lovable, something divine, in all of us.
The modern insistence on “cutting out anyone toxic”, may sound like the path to greater happiness but considering we are all “toxic” in certain ways or on certain days – after the cutting we may be left alone with just our toxic selves. I pray others “act as if they love me” – because I am often unworthy of that love.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6