Bill Graham Answers: How Can We Love People Who Are Hard to Like?

The Rev. Billy Graham
Evangelist Billy Graham speaks during the final day of his Crusade at Flushing Meadows Park in New York June 26, 2005. Graham, 86, has preached the Gospel to more people in a live audience format than anyone in history -- over 210 million people in more than 185 countries. His followers believe that the New York Crusade which runs from June 24 to 26 will be his last live appearance. |

Christians are called to pray for and love those who are "hard to like," says famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham.

In Graham's question-and-answer column on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he was asked about the challenges of loving people who are critical and mean spirited, which in this person's case was their aunt.

"I know Jesus said we ought to love people, but how do you love someone who's really hard to get along with?" the person asked.

"My aunt is like this, always criticizing everyone and in general just being disagreeable. We dread it when she comes to visit."

In his response, the 97-year-old preacher noted that while "some people are simply hard to like" they can still be loved and prayed for.

"You may find it hard to like your aunt — but you can still love her! You see, when we truly love someone, we are concerned about them and want to do everything we can to help them," Graham wrote.

"This is the kind of love God has for us (in spite of our sin and rebellion) — and it's the kind of love He wants us to have for others. Jesus said, 'As I have loved you, so you must love one another,' (John 13:34)."

Graham advised the person to go to prayer, not only for the benefit of the aunt but also to help see the family member the way that God sees her.

"Ask God to help you see your aunt the same way He sees her — as someone who is admittedly imperfect and difficult, but also as someone He still loves," Graham continued.

"Then pray for her, that she may come to realize how much God loves her, and open her heart and life to Christ's transforming power. You can't change her — but God can."

Graham's comments come at a time when many are bemoaning the apparent decline of civility and increased divisiveness during the past several years and especially during this presidential election season.

In an interview with the Pew Research Center back in 2009, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren said "civilization is losing its civility."

"I don't know if you've noticed it or not but the world is getting ruder. We're getting more crass. You may not demonize a person just because they're different, and differences do not demonize," said Warren.

"America is a democracy. In a democracy nobody wins all the time. I don't. You don't. Nobody does. That's called a democracy. It doesn't mean we pack up and leave the country because we don't win."

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