Abraham Lincoln once remarked about someone he disliked, ''I don't like that man, I'll have to get to know him better.'' His remark is thought-provoking. Dislike so often stems from a lack of understanding, and the remedy is understanding. We have to know each other better.
But if we want to heal our dislike for others, we have to begin with ourselves. We have to know ourselves.
Because man is made in God's likeness, as the Bible explains, we get to know ourselves, in the truest sense, through an understanding of God. We learn from Christ Jesus that God is Love and that He is Spirit, supreme good. In Jesus' life and works we see Love demonstrated. We see the highest example of man reflecting the nature of God.
Christian Science, which follows the teachings of Jesus, maintains that God is the only true creative power or presence; that in a Christian understanding of God we see there is no place in His creation for any element unlike Him, no room for anything unloving. We learn from this Science that a conscious awareness of this spiritual truth frees us from fear and hate, because it establishes in thought the fact that God is indeed Love, and that man is made to express Love. We learn, then, that our actual selfhood is loving, pure, intelligent, and that what is true spiritually of us is true of others, because we are all God's children, loved equally.
Applying this truth practically to human situations is where the challenge lies. In this effort we find the perfect example of Jesus invaluable. He showed us the way.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of Jesus, ''He did life's work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals, - to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility.'' n1
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 18.
How did Jesus heal situations involving deep repugnance or dislike?
One example is given in the Biblical account of his meeting with a leper. We read that the leper came to him saying, ''Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.'' Jesus, we're told, reached out and touched him, saying, ''I will; be thou clean.'' The account then says, ''Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.'' n 2
n2 Matthew 8:2, 3.
Few things in those days invoked more fear and repugnance than leprosy. The unfortunate sufferers were treated as outcasts. They were isolated from society, avoided at all costs. To deliberately touch a leper was a thing unheard of. Yet how much those unhappy people must have longed for a compassionate human touch.
Jesus knew that he was the Son of God, the loved expression of Love, without a vestige of fear. In his Love-filled consciousness he held no sense of repugnance. From this standpoint of thought he was able to see the leper as spiritually freeborn in God's likeness. He loved what he correctly saw, and the human touch of compassion he extended was a token of the spiritual love he felt within. In the warmth of this love the afflicted man's erroneous concept of himself must have melted away, because the leprous symptoms disappeared.
Love liberated the man. ''No power can withstand divine Love,'' n3 Mrs. Eddy tells us. Love was active in Jesus' consciousness. He demonstrated that a consciousness filled with divine Love - free from fears, hates, and dislikes - is a healing consciousness.
n3 Science and Health, p. 224.
If we are faced with a feeling of abhorrence or dislike for someone, what should we do about it? Should we try to heal the other person of his, or her, offending characteristics so that we are no longer troubled? Or should we do as Jesus did, look out on the world and other people with a spiritual understanding of God and man, and with a compassion that holds no abhorrence or dislike?
The divine Principle of life is Love, and our adherence to this Principle makes the power of Love active in our lives. To heal our dislike for our neighbor we have to know our neighbor better. To do this we have to know ourselves better. We have to know the spiritual truth of ourselves, and then live it. Then we can truly love our neighbor as ourselves. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18