Everyone wants to be liked. My goodness, Mark Zuckerberg has built a billion dollar business on “likes.” We feel wonderful when we’re liked, somewhat devastated when we’re not.
There’s nothing wrong with desiring to be liked. Even in evangelistic terms, who listens to someone they don’t like? The problem comes when “like” takes precedent over love.
How do you react when you feel someone doesn’t like you? One natural human tendency is to withdraw. This probably occurs if rejection has played a role in our past. The hidden danger lies in interpreting everything through the lens of negativity. Someone doesn’t wave back at church. Someone else doesn’t respond to an email or facebook post. Another disagrees with something we believe. They all become evidences that we’re not liked. Can you see where this leads? Straight to paranoia. And all paranoia—even in small doses—distorts the image of God we are meant to bear.
A second danger for like-addicts is that we’re not apt to confront someone with the truth for fear they won’t, well, like us anymore. We may even use love language to rationalize our reluctance. But no matter how much we try to justify it, there is nothing loving about letting people believe lies. That’s just using cheap grace to hide our selfishness. Love is not “live and let live.” It’s more along the lines of dying. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:3).
Another option takes the form of love. Rather than letting our minds mull over either real or misperceived rejection, we choose a higher road. We direct our thoughts to what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). When we soak our minds, our souls, with the good stuff, we don’t need to gobble up man’s affirmation like a starving waif. We’re full. So full, that even if our perceptions are true, and someone is rejecting us…what difference does it make? We respond out of the love God has given us, not out of a desperate need for man’s approval.
Blessed are those who seek to love more than be liked. The Beatles notwithstanding, it’s all we really need….