(This post is part of a series. For an introduction to the topic read, “How ought we read the Bible?” To see all posts in this topic, go to “Does the Bible really say that?”) You know the song. Jesus loves the little children – all the children of the world.
What does it mean to say that God loves people? God certainly loves the world – John 3:16 is a great illustration of that. This familiar passage shows us how much God loves humanity in general – so much that he sent His Son to die. But does that mean that he loves all humans specifically? We need to do some careful thought before making that leap.We say things like “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!”, and “Love the sinner; hate the sin”, but I wonder if we’ve thought it through.
Let’s look at a few specific passages.
- “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” - Psalm 5:5
- “The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” - Psalm 11:5
- “And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.” - Lev. 20:23
- “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Proverbs 6:16-19
- “Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house. I will love them no more” - Hosea 9:15
So how do we reconcile this with a God of love?
God created humans and they rebelled against Him. They wanted things their way. It is we humans who broke off relationship with God. Even so, God loved and pursued humanity such that he sent His Son to save His own. Naturally there have been many who continued to stand in opposition to God. God hates sin and opposes the rebels who cling to it, but He remains waiting with open arms for any who will turn to him.
Does Jesus love the little children? Absolutely.
Does He want all to come to Him? Yes.
Does God always get what He wants? No. He allows people to choose to reject Him.
Does He love all humans equally? It depends what you mean by ‘love’. He extends His offer equally to all. He does not force anyone to choose against their will. Those sound to me like the actions of a loving God. But Does God have the same feelings for all mankind? I don’t think the Bible bears that out. God loves those who have sought and found reconciliation through His Son, but hates those who willfully oppose Him. If we truly love our neighbor, we will show that love by extending God’s invitation to them as well.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” - John 3:36
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” – Jude 1:22-23