Often, my youngest will tell his mother and I “I love you and I like you.” I really enjoy hearing that, to be honest, but several times in his short life, I’ve had to discipline him, or tell him to stop doing something that he thought was fun but was harmful to him, or, since he’s the baby of the family, to help him grow out of babyish habits that he wants to hold on to (he’s six, so there’s some things he needs to move past). I know he still loves me, but that like part is not always there. He may not always understand why I do what I do (I always try my best to tell him that my role as his father is to raise up a godly young man, and to explain why I do what I do), and he definitely doesn’t always like it, but he knows I love him too.
In the same way, I know God often disciplines me. I have some bad habits, and most involved getting distracted. Some have to do with my desire to be liked (to be honest, it’s lonely being a preacher!), and some instances have him shaping me as a man of God, a father, and a leader in my Christian community. If I’m honest, I’m like Ado Annie in Oklahoma, in my desire to please, “I cain’t say no.” Yet, in all of it, I know I must, no matter how much it hurts. This discipline of God’s hurts my ego, but it humbles my heart, and I need to accept the discipline He gives me.
In the same way, we’re also to help one another like this. Sometimes we have to tell one another “no.” We have to do what is best over what is popular, and sometimes we have to tell our brothers and sisters in Christ when they’re going against His will. We need to stand up for and to one another. We need to lift one another up in prayer, and we need to ask one another where our walk with Christ is. People may not like us at the time of such conversations, but they should know we love them, even if it’s after the fact. I fear many who “like” me will meet eternity without me ever telling them of God’s love through Christ Jesus and the Gospel. I would rather them dislike me for a short amount of time and be with me in eternity than like me now, and face eternity without Jesus Christ.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God bye the Spirit.