A BIBLE STUDY: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSE TO LOVE EVERYONE THE SAME WAY? — PART 1

bibleWhile I drive to work or on road trips, I often study the Bible. Interspersed with appropriate readings of chapters from the King James Bible I listen to Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s five-year series, Thru The Bible. For most part I have found listening to McGee’s explanations edifying, but sometimes he leaves me confused, and this post is about one such instance. McGee did not think Christians are suppose to love everyone quite the same way. Perhaps by the time I get to his explanation of the Book of Revelation I will understand why McGee believed that, but now I don’t. I just know what McGee said set me to thinking.

In OF WHAT IS TOM AFRAID?, we considered what Christ Jesus primary command for us. He wants us to love each other as He loved us.

Can we love each other as Jesus loved us? Considering how we closed OF WHAT IS TOM AFRAID?, I wonder. We linked to a series of posts at Settled In Heaven that analyzes this passage in minute detail.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13 New King James Version (NKJV)

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

….

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Because 1 Corinthians 13 defines Christian love so well, agape, 1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most Bible’s beloved and studied chapters. So perhaps we should not be surprised how many posts Settled In Heaven devoted to it.  Here are the remainder.

Nevertheless, in spite of the length of His Word and all our careful analysis, Jesus still makes this standout promise.

Matthew 11:25-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus Gives True Rest

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus promises us rest, an easy yoke, a light burden. If His primary command is to love each other as He loved us, then it must be possible to obey His command, but easily?

So what are the alternatives?  Well, here are some of them.

  • Jesus wants us to love everyone.
  • Jesus wants us grow in love. As we grow as Christians, we should be able to love more people more deeply.
  • Jesus wants us to love as best we can in a fallen world. Only when His Kingdom comes will we be able to love as He loved.
  • Jesus only wants us to love our Christian brothers and sisters.
  • Jesus only wants us to love the elect (the chosen people).
  • Jesus only wants us to love those we can love.
  • Jesus want us to love everyone, but He only wants us to demonstrate our love to those who can and will accept our love.
  • Jesus only wants us to love the people He loves.
  • Jesus only wants us to love the people He tells us to love.
  • Jesus only wants us to love the people who cross our path.
  • Jesus only wants us to love good people.

Are there more alternatives? I suppose so, but these will do for the time being. What I expect to do in future posts is consider what the Bible says about each of these alternatives.

Obviously, the Settled In Heaven series considers some of these questions, but the focus here will be slightly different. Consider what Rob Barkman says in his summary.

Keep in mind, the outstanding characteristic of Godly love is a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the beloved. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this basic principle in Galatians 2:19-20…

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

Through the testimony of the law, the lost individual sees their need of a Savior. As the lost one comes to Christ, he is made dead to the law (no longer under the penalty of the law) and given a new life of service to God.

As Barkman suggests, we have one more alternative.

  • Jesus wants us to love each other in a way that honors Him.

Since I am still somewhat puzzled about this matter, I welcome advice and suggestions.

5 thoughts on “A BIBLE STUDY: ARE CHRISTIANS SUPPOSE TO LOVE EVERYONE THE SAME WAY? — PART 1

  1. Tom-,

    Wow, a ton of work you put into this post, but a noble topic. Out of the gate, I claim no upper hand on knowing or most certainly fulfilling the command to ‘thy thy neighbor,’ but an observation my suffice.

    When the Lord took Peter, James, and John to the room of Jairus daughter, do we think there was a question of love by the others? When He once more, took them to the mount ‘and was transfigured,’ we can suggest there was grumbling: ‘He loves them more than us.’

    What we do not know is, how many times did the Lord take the ‘others’ aside at the exclusion of Peter, James, and John? Remember ‘many’ things were done, if I suppose would be written, ‘would fill all libraries.’

    It was not a matter of love in these instances, but of purpose. So I guess if my heart is right, then my love should be the same toward all, (it is peccable of course and weak)

    The ideal is ‘love as Christ loves.’ Have I done this? (insert silence here) But we know the target, and the Lord knows us., I cannot love everyone, but Christ can, and there is the problem, I AM IN THE WAY…..

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    1. Ton of work? You give me too much credit. At this point, I have listen to most of a 5-year Bible study, and I have read a set Rob Barkman’s posts at Settled In Heaven. Presenting that radio show and writing those posts took much more work than I propose.

      I just hope to resolve a question. Are Christians suppose to love everyone the same way?With respect to this question, I had not considered the rivalries and jealousies of the apostles. Nevertheless, that was something Jesus, because He loved them, had to deal with and probably almost every day. Thank you for you insights.

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  2. Tom, First of all thanks for the reblog links.

    You have brought up a very interesting question that is not easily answered that is for sure. I would love to here exactly what J Vernon McGee said on the subject. I do enjoy his ministry but every now and then he presents things that I have to think about awhile. It sounds like you have have found the same to be true as well.

    Back to your question about loving equally. From my own personal experience in life, I would explain the love I hold for others as differing types of love, not necessarily differing degrees of love. I do believe the Lord desires for us to love all men with one of these differing types of love, but these types of love dictate that some take priority over others.

    For example the love I have for my Lord is a very unique type of love that I do not hold for any other. Likewise the love for my wife is a different type of love than that for other physical family members. The same principle applies for members of my spiritual family, my friends and acquaintances, and the stranger who I may meet for the first time. In all of these cases, I am willing to sacrifice myself for each group, but based on the different types of love I hold for them, I find myself sacrificing to different degrees.

    I would sacrifice more for physical or spiritual family members than for the stranger on the street. It just seems to come “naturally” to me based upon the type of love I hold for each group.

    LIkewise, due to the nature of my love for the Lord, I willingly attempt to place Him first above all others including my wife and other members of my family. The love I hold for my wife leads me to want to give of myself for her above any other human beings. Again, it just seems like I naturally put her first based upon the love I have for her.

    I know this may seem like just an issue of semantics, to be honest it may be. All I know is from my experience of differing types of love, I becomes very easy to prioritize my different “loves” when called upon to do so. It just seems like it naturally comes to me when I am faced with a situation where I must choose.

    In any case, it seems to me I hold a love for each group which fulfills the desires of God for my life, and yet I choose to make differing levels of sacrifice based on the love I hold for each group. I do not believe this is displeasing to the Lord in any way. It is simply a display of each unique type of love that the Lord has placed in my heart for each type of relationship.

    Hope I didn’t simply confuse the issue more. Like I said I appreciate the question and look forward to responses to your question. Lord bless.

    Like

    1. Confused the issue more? No. I do not think so. I very much appreciate the answer.

      What exactly did J. Vernon McGee say on the subject? Here I want to be careful. I don’t know how much of what McGee said on Thru The Bible has been transcribed. I just know I have not had any luck finding a complete transcription on the Internet.

      I recall hearing him discuss the subject of this post when he went over the Sermon on the Mount and 1-3 John. To do proper justice to what McGee said, I will have to listen to those broadcasts again.

      Meanwhile, please check out => https://citizentom.com/2014/08/24/a-bible-study-are-christians-suppose-to-love-everyone-the-same-way-part-2/. That post provides a link to one of McGee’s sermons. Since I remember hearing much of the same content on his Thru The Bible series, I think it is at least partly relevant to your question.

      Like

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