We are all guilty, at times, of making statements that may ring true to our ears, but upon careful reflection may not be entirely accurate. I’m doing a short series of blog posts on “Sloppy Christian Sayings.” My previous post took up the statement: all sins are the same. Today: God loves everybody the same.
Well, does He? The short answer: it depends. The Bible speaks of God’s love in multiple categories.
For example, when Jesus is encouraging his followers to love their enemies, He uses one category of God’s love as the example to follow. He says God, “…causes his sun to rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Here God’s love is demonstrated in His general care over all of His creation. In this sense, God loves everybody the same. He loves Hitler just as much as Billy Graham.
But this isn’t the only way God’s love is talked about in the Bible. In Malachi 1:2-3, God makes a strong statement, “I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated.” What does that mean? In short, God chose Israel and no other nation to be His chosen people. He has loved Israel more than He has loved other nations. In this sense, God doesn’t love everybody the same. In this sense, presumably, God loves Billy Graham more than He loves Hitler.
This same idea is clearly demonstrated in Ephesians 5. Husbands are called to love their wives just like Jesus loved the church. Question: should a husband’s love for his wife be different than his love for other women? Absolutely! So a husband’s love for his wife is supposed to be more intimate than his love for other women. Why? Because that’s how Jesus has loved the church. A husband’s love for his wife is just like Jesus’ love for the church (i.e. Christians). Which means, a husband’s love for other women is supposed to be like Jesus’ love for those who die as non-Christians. Again, in this sense, Jesus doesn’t love everybody the same.
One practical encouragement for Christians comes out of this: Jesus’ love for you is not general. His love for you is like a husband’s love for his wife. It’s deep, intimate, and unique.