I think a lot about the commandment, Love thy neighbor as thyself. It is, after all, one of the two greatest commandments in Christianity. But I run into problems in my personal life, when I think of a person who wants to be my friend, yet that feeling is not reciprocal. Especially when I have known that person for a long time. In such cases as this, how should one go about loving their neighbor? Is it against the spirit of this commandment to be honest with that person, and tell them you neither feel friendship, nor want to invest in friendship any more? Even if it means you may never talk to them again? Or should you try to find a way to be friends with this person, regardless of your genuine feelings?
I believe there is a way to be kind to people and still maintain a certain distance and not form a friendship. These days a ‘friend’ is such a cheapened term. Everyone is a friend, even if we only met them twice. Meaningless.
Unless the person is socially awkward, they will get the hint that yoh are not interested. It’s so much like dating really.
What if they don’t get the hint? That’s what happened in my situation. What would be the right thing to do, then?
The solution to the problem, I suggest, is “Christian courtesy”. Treat each person with every formal politeness, show appropriate conventional expressions of interest in their welfare (E.g. “I wish you a good day”, “I trust that you are well”). If, perchance, the opportunity present itself for a corporate work of mercy (e.g. you find them injured on the side of the road), then by all means, assist them.
But it is not possible to be ‘friends’ with everyone, nor does the Gospel require it. In fact, to be ‘friends’ with everyone would be psychologically and humanly impossible, and probably spiritual damaging.
A strong tradition in religious life is to avoid ‘particular friendships’ altogether- in other words, to treat everyone with the same courtesy and charity (including convention social interactions), but nothing more (or nothing less).
The same principle can be applied to life in general, if it happens to accord with one’s disposition and circumstances.
Had this discussion with a dear Dutch lady here, non Christian.I said we were bidden to love everyone.She disagreed and said we must respect everyone.
An interesting distinction.
But depends what you mean by "love"and I do not think the word now means what it did when Jesus says it.
Loving means acceptance surely, ie yes the respect…
But not intimate involvement.
Provide in their need… support them…
Love and friends … two totally different things.
Loving your neighbor as your self does not mean one must be their friend.
Jesus also said we are to even love our enemies!
(who are rather not our friends…)
Love them from a distance.