Thursday, March 17, 2016

THEFT #21 - Stealin' Back Love (but not "Like.") - Step 2


Well, as promised, feast your eyes on "Step 2" of contrasting the ideas of "love" and "like" in the Bible, and I'll focus on the idea of "like" today (but not necessarily the word "like," which I'll explain in a bit.

Let's start with some basic definitions for the word "like" from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Simple Definition of like
1 to enjoy (something) : to get pleasure from (something)
2 to regard (something) in a favorable way
Full Definition of like 

>transitive verb
1 chiefly dialect :  to be suitable or agreeable to
2a :  to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in :  enjoy
  b:  to feel toward :  regard
3 :  to wish to have :  want
4 :  to do well in 

>intransitive verb
1 dialect :  approve
2:  to feel inclined :  choose, prefer

Pretty simple isn't it?   
I don't see much to argue with here:  This is the way we use the word "like" in our everyday language in the USA, whether talking about people, places, or things.

HOWEVER: Keep in mind that we are specifically exploring this assertion: "I know the Bible says I have to love him/her, but that doesn't mean I have to like him/her."

So, what we really want to know is this: Does Scripture contains that convey the idea of "I like/don't like" someone, as a totally distinct idea from "I love/don't love" someone?  Therefore: If both of these ideas (remember: not necessarily the words) are indeed present in Scripture, can they be totally exclusive of each other?  That is, does Scripture allow me to "love" someone but, at the same time, to not "like" that same person?  Get it?

First, the English Bible versions that we call "literal" or have "word for word correspondence" to original languages, simply do not have the word "like" used as a verb (e.g., New American Standard, English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard, King James Version, New King James Version, and so on). 

BUT: Those same English version do contain words or phrases that fit the dictionary definitions above for what we mean when we say we "like" someone or something. Examples:  I am pleased by someone; I have affection for someone; I am made glad by someone; I rejoice in someone; I am favorable toward someone.  

Indeed all of these words are not only used of my attitude toward other people, but also of God's attitude toward His people.  The logical conclusion is that however God reconciles His use of the word "love" with all of these words we connect with "like" is the same way we, His people, should reconcile our use of these words. 

NOTE on "love": The New Testament has two distinct Greek words translated "to love" in English: 
1) agapao:  meaning "to love a person to the point of sacrificing oneself on behalf of that person;" The primary example of agapao love is Jesus Christ sacrificing Himself on the cross so that our sins might be forgiven.
2) phileo: meaning "to feel and show affection for a person on a regular basis."  Examples of phileo include kind words, hugs, pats on the back, smiles, and other gestures or words that let someone know your affection. This happens between spouses, family members, close friend, and most significantly, between "brothers and/or sisters" as mutual members of the body of Christ.

Using just the two Greek words above, we can extrapolate that #1 above--agapao--is what Scripture normally intends me to mean when I say "I love that person."   Right along with that goes #2 above--phileo--which is the closest Scripture comes to saying what I should mean when I say "I like that person." 

At this point it is obvious that there will be a "Step 3" for this particular subject. So let me end with this thought: Although the New Testament has these two distinct Greek words that can, in our modern terms, "love" (agapao) and "like" (phileo), it can be easily demonstrated that we who are in Christ cannot practice one without the other.  

That is, if I follow New Testament usage and example, I cannot say, "I love that person but I don't like that person." It is the ultimate "false dichotomy" for a Christian!


But more on that next time! 
Grace and peace -- The Thief.

No comments: