It seems quite clear that God loves everyone from no matter which way you look at it. For instance, I love my brother, my neighbor, and my enemy.
Matthew 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..."
Is it possible that I love anyone more than God does? I would say that it can't be! He is love, and all love that I have comes from him.
1 John 4:7-8 "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love."
If there is someone that, because of God's command, I love enough to give my life for, is it possible that God loves them less than I do? Do I have love more powerful or perfect than God's love? Of course not! In my last blog, I also put forward several verses which say that God loves everyone.
Now let's put forward a shocking fact: God hates people.
That's right. I didn't say that God "loves the sinner, but hates the sin," I said that God hates some people. I'm not making this up; check out these verses:
Romans 9:13 "As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”"
Psalm 11:5 "The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. "
Proverbs 6:16-19 "These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look, A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren."
In those verses, God says through His Word that He does not just hate the sin, He also hates false witnesses, Esau, and those who love violence. God's Word cannot lie. Notice, though, that unlike the hatred that we often have for people, God only supports perfect hatred:
"Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies."
What is this hatred?
What is this perfect hatred? Why is David allowed to have perfect hatred, if we are to love both our neighbor and our enemy? Isn't that impossible? Is the Bible contradicting itself?
Some would put forward the idea that "hatred is opposite of love." I don't think that definition holds much truth. I heard just the other week, in a sermon, that "the opposite of love is not hatred, it's apathy." I would have to agree with that. Apathy is not love; it is not anywhere near love...
1 John 3:17 "But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?"
Whereas "love-hate" relationships are quite easy to find. God loves the world, and God hates the wicked, but nowhere does the Bible say that God is apathetic about any of them. If the Bible said that God loved all, and was apathetic about some, then that would perhaps be a contradiction. But that is not what the Bible says.
When we say "hatred," often we mean "a lack of love mixed with animosity and hostility toward another person; a desire to harm them." I admit that this is an oft-used definition. However, is that really the type of perfect hatred that God has? That would definitely contradict the passages about God loving people.
Let's look at the Bible at face value, and look at the implications:
- Fact: God loves the world. (John 3:16)
- Fact: God hates some people. (Ps. 11:5)
- Logical conclusion: God's perfect hatred can happen at the same time as love.
The idea that hate and love perfectly can, and must, walk hand in hand may seem odd or strange to you, and so before going on with more arguments, scriptures, or proofs, I will take a moment to paint a word picture for you. A picture painted by G.K. Chesterton which shows this unique relationship being seeming opposites.
"Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing--say Pimlico. If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne or the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico: in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico: for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful...
The evil of the pessimist is, then, not that he chastises gods and men, but that he does not love what he chastises--he has not this primary and supernatural loyalty to things. What is the evil of the man commonly called an optimist? Obviously, it is felt that the optimist, wishing to defend the honour of this world, will defend the indefensible. He is the jingo of the universe; he will say, "My cosmos, right or wrong." He will be less inclined to the reform of things; more inclined to a sort of front-bench official answer to all attacks, soothing every one with assurances. He will not wash the world, but whitewash the world...
No one doubts that an ordinary man can get on with this world: but we demand not strength enough to get on with it, but strength enough to get it on. Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing? Can he look up at its colossal good without once feeling acquiescence? Can he look up at its colossal evil without once feeling despair? Can he, in short, be at once not only a pessimist and an optimist, but a fanatical pessimist and a fanatical optimist? Is he enough of a pagan to die for the world, and enough of a Christian to die to it? In this combination, I maintain, it is the rational optimist who fails, the irrational optimist who succeeds. He is ready to smash the whole universe for the sake of itself."
I really do relate to that one line: "Can he hate it enough to change it, and yet love it enough to think it worth changing?" This really is what God does, and has done. Let me give an example:
- God hates the wicked.
Psalm 5:5 " The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong."
- I was one the of the wicked.
Romans 1:30 "...backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents..."
- In His hatred, He also loved me enough that He was willing to die to me so that I would no longer be one of the wicked.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
In our own humans minds, we may see some sort of contradiction here. If you hate someone for being wicked, how could you also love them enough to die for them? That is God's perfect and gracious love for us. If God loves people enough to die for them, how could He condemn those who choose to remain wicked to hell? That is God's perfect hatred. There is no contradiction. The cross is where God's perfect mercy and justice were both perfectly fulfilled. Is it so hard, then, to see that God's perfect love and hatred could both be perfectly fulfilled?
Example: As christians, we are commanded to love all. We also commanded to hate some. Logical conclusion: Biblical hatred can happen at the same time as love.
Romans 13:8[Also see Luke 10 for clarification about who our neighbor is; who we are to love]
"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
The common interpretation of this "hate" is that Jesus is saying your love for Him must be so great that your love for others seems closer to hate in comparison. Notice that this hatred can and should happen at the same time as love. For he who does not love his brother is in the darkness until now.
Another Example: David was a man after God's own heart, and thereby we infer that he followed the two greatest commandments, and also hated people with "perfect hatred" without being reprimanded. Logical conclusion: Biblical hatred can happen at the same time as love.
"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’"
I maintain that although the Bible says that God loves and hates, it does not contradict itself. I maintain that as christians, we are told to love and hate, and yet are not commanded a contradiction. I could be entirely incorrect and confused here, but it seems to me that we are called to love God above all, and to hate(love less) people while loving them enough to give our lives for them. It seems to be very possible for David or God to hate the wicked with a perfect hatred while loving them passionately. It seems to me that God hates the wicked with passionate hatred, while loving them (including me here) enough to die to pay their penalty, and make them into a new creation.