"O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away... You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!"
Psalm 139:1-2, 4-5, 17-18 (NLT)
"I love them, but I don't like them" is sadly the mantra of many Christians. Let me say this as simply as I can - That is not Biblical love.
When we say we love someone but don't like them, what we are truly saying is "I have to love all people because I'm a Christian, but I don't have to like them." When we say we don't like someone, we are really saying that we don't like their actions. When we don't like someone because of their actions, we are judging the value of that individual based on what they do and not who they are - people made in the image of God - apart from behavior.
I can say I don't like someone's actions, but to say I don't like "them" is to say, "I don't like what God created." Behavior is separate from image and worth.
Biblical love says I love you and I like you! Biblical love says "I love you regardless of your past, present, and future actions." Biblical love is unconditional, which means that there is no condition (behavior or circumstance) that will scare God's love away. And there is nothing anyone can do to diminish one's value in God's eyes or heart.
If we are loving like this, then no matter what someones actions toward us, we love them and like them.
This is how David expresses God's love in this psalm. David expresses that even though God knows everything about him in every way, His hand of blessing (favor) is still upon him and His thoughts for David are many and precious. David is saying, "God still values, loves, and likes me."
This is true for us as well. David was far from a perfect man, and yet God still loved and liked David. I encourage to read about King David and all the times He messed up. I am sure you can Wikipedia "King David."
We may believe God loves us, but many times we struggle to believe he likes us, and that is because we too are behavior focused - in this case, our own behaviors. Because we judge our own worth by what we do and not who we are, we struggle to receive God's "like" for us. We think, "He can't possibly like me."
If God values us based on our actions, then you would be right, but because He looks at us on the basis of our inherent worth - of being made in His image and made for a relationship with Him - He loves and likes you no matter what you do.
Don't misunderstand, He definitely doesn't like our sinful behaviors, since sin destroys that which He loves (people), but because His love is perfect, He can separate our value from our actions. We struggle with separating behavior from value because our love is imperfect.
My prayer is that you receive God's perfect love for you and that you would know, beyond any doubts, that He "likes" you!