English is a strange language: to like and to love, to dislike and to hate – there is a synonymous discord in these words. Often, and (I suggest) incorrectly, like is seen as a lesser form of love, and dislike as a lesser form of hate. To like or dislike a person is to render that relationship superficial. The Biblical command to love, especially to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is a call to take relationships beyond superficiality to a more profound level of being. To love is to supersede all other responses and to interact not with a perception but with the image of God implanted in every human being. To love is to consign that relationship into the presence of God; to hate is to eliminate that relationship from the presence of God. It is a profound place of being with another person.
To love oneself is to recognise the perspective of God, to see our lives through God’s eyes, and to acknowledge that God loves us despite our imperfection. The second commandment is a call to build our self-awareness not on what we see in the mirror; not on our awareness of our selfishness, wrong attitudes, and poor self-image; but to build on the perfection of our image carried in the mind of God. This brings us into the presence of God, and so enables us to bring our relationships into the presence of God, and to find a profound place of being with God and with another person. We are called to build on a different, a holy, foundation.
5 November 2006