Jesus Likes You
I don’t know why this concept was so shocking to me. As a child I bought into the song, "Jesus loves you, this I know," but it didn't mean to much to me because I kind of I figured that was his job.
Liking, however, seems to require some discrimination. If someone likes you there must be something about you that makes them want to be with you. Recently, riding in the car with Jesus (yeah, I can't believe I just wrote that), he said that he liked me. Now that was a show stopper. It made me think I’d better set about figuring out how to like that person too. Would one of you talk to me about this?
Mister Rogers: Ann, I am so glad to be able to be with you tonight when you have found a moment to really look at this. And you are right. Love is wonderful, gracious, all-encompassing, but liking is more than that. It encompasses recognition of both our light and dark selves. It speaks of understanding, respect, and compassion for the person we are right now.
And I believe you are discovering that it is much easier to like yourself when you know that God likes you too. Then you can stop wasting time wallowing in despair or anger or judgement and turn your kind attention to the person you really are, the person that God likes too.
You may recall that I always ended my show with the words, “I like you, just the way you are.” This I meant from my heart because each child needs to see themselves as the likable person they are inside, the unique person whose existence is important. You don’t like people you wish to ship off to Timbuktu. You like people whose company is interesting, whose presence makes you smile and think harder about things. When someone likes you, you want reach out to others to share that like.
A child of any age - and that includes all of us - who can see him or herself as likable can move forward in life, can open to God because they do not need to hide among the trees to cover their nakedness. That child can dance in the open air!
I often thought that if the judgmental god in Genesis had said to Adam and Eve, “I like you, I like your initiative, I like your curiosity, I like your wanting to grow. Can we work together to make some adjustments to help you manage better in the new world we have created?“
When you hear stories such as this, I always think it wise to consider the source. Who gains from such a story? Only those with a philosophy of life based upon punishment, fear, and domination. Such a philosophy is not of heaven, I can tell you with conviction now that I have had the chance to experience the realized version of same.
So I ask you and every one of you to think of Jesus saying, “I like you. I like to be with you.” Surely you would not put your judgment above his? And so, armed with that understanding, perhaps you can extend his message to others and watch it spread from person to person, family to family.
Ann: Fred, just one little caveat, gotta say that I really don’t like everyone.
Fred: You would, Ann, if like Jesus, you could see through to their heart. Even with the most challenging of relationships, whether a person is 4 years old, 14, or 74, you can learn to think to yourself. You can say, “You are driving me crazy but I like you because…” And then tell them why that is true and remember why it is true of you also when you are on the other side of that equation.
Even when circumstances make it prudent to part company with someone who has not discovered their own likable core, you can do so still holding in your memory the part of that person that you like. That way it will be there for both of you, and you can move on in the direction that God has asked of us with a light heart.
July 26, 2020