Here's what I'm believing:
In order to truly love someone as God intends we must love as God loved.
In Jesus we see the fullest expression of that love. Therefore we are to love like Jesus loved.
While God has had to make some difficult choices where His love towards one pales in comparison towards another ["Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated" paraphrased Mal. 1 or Rom. 9], God being in the very nature love - cannot help but love.
Love protects with a fierce demonstration of love. Jesus once referred to God has a mother protecting her offspring (Mt. 23). Therefore one can conclude that righteous anger towards anything that would destroy what is loved isn't necessarily "hatred", but in comparison towards the love it is. (I must be careful here as we are getting into a place of defining words...so dangerous in our postmodern/deconstructive world).
These are thoughts that probably should be flushed out more, but for the sake of brevity I'm going to assume you understand the argument I'm making and move forward.
Now my beef, as of late, is "I love them, I just don't like them". I really don't think that statement is possible.
Now being able to distinguish between the sinner from sin is important. God hates sin. But it was in our sinfulness that God was moved to send His son to die for us. It was when we were most offensive towards God that He demonstrated His love toward us. When we were in our least like-able state Jesus was born, He died and He rescued.
If forgiveness is being able to truly desire the best for someone else, then I believe that love is to truly like who that person is, despite their flaws, and desiring what's better for them too.
Not that not-liking someone is an admission of wanting harm to come on them, but neither is it an admission of wanting the greater things for them as well.
Jesus spoke to the connection of our thoughts with our actions. He said that if we lust in our heart we have already committed adultery. I think we can make conclusions from this teaching. If we covet - we have already stolen. If we hate - we have already murdered. If we do not trust God - we have committed idolatry (putting faith in something higher than God). If we don't like someone - we hate them.
To love like Jesus I think we must see a person as God sees them, created uniquely and with purpose and value. Significant. Beautiful. Treasured.
Can I like someone enough to love them?
I'm not there yet, but this is my new standard.
I'd love to hear your thoughts?