Jesus’s birth answers the question: Does God really love everyone?
In just a few weeks Christmas will be here. There are so many different approaches to celebrating Christmas and what it represents. For me, it’s the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies of the coming of Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah.
It’s not too early to start thinking about getting ready for Christmas, and I’m not talking about the shopping and cooking and festivities, however important those things may be to you in getting ready for the holiday. I’m talking about getting your heart ready to receive more of Christ’s appearing, to hear in a fresh way the Christmas story and how it applies to the world today, as well as to your own life.
Does God really love everyone?
The more I think about what Christmas represents and how to prepare my heart for it, the more I’ve realized Christmas is about God’s love for mankind, all mankind.
I did an episode a couple of years ago at the Christmas season that touches on this very point. It’s Episode 115: Christmas Means Everyone Is Worthy of God’s Love.
Now, it’s pretty straightforward to say that God loves all His children, that God loves everyone. But, it might be a surprise to you that all Christians don’t actually believe God loves everyone. There are those who think He loves some and hates others. This can actually be a rather controversial topic depending on what theological perspective you hold onto, or rather, what theological perspectives hold onto you.
But every time I hear some so-called Christian authority, teacher, or leader explaining why God doesn’t love everyone, it sounds very academic. They turn it into a theological debate about the nature of God and how He loves or doesn’t love people.
Now I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t have all the answers and do not understand every single detail of the Bible’s message. But it often seems to me that these people debating whether God loves everyone or not are actually projecting their own beliefs, and lack of love for everyone, onto God.
They know who they don’t like and then try to find reasons why God doesn’t like them either. It reminds me of what Jesus said to the Pharisees,
You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Matthew 23:24 NIV
Whose authority will you listen to?
They force God into a theological box of their own understanding and can’t imagine God acting or existing outside of their limited concept of Him. They back up what they say with some Bible verses, while ignoring others. And they speak with such authority.
Whenever I see this kind of theological conflict about any important topic in the Bible, I try, and it’s not always easy, to let go of my preconceptions and see what Jesus has to say about the subject.
Who am I going to turn to as the ultimate authority, some preacher on YouTube with millions of followers?
Some people are pretty impressed with preachers like that. But as soon as you find one who says one thing, you can find another one saying exactly the opposite with the same amount of self-assurance as the first one.
I think I’ll stick with Jesus as the authority.
Jesus is the best authority
So, let see what Jesus has to say about God’s love for everyone.
This is the very first Bible verse I memorized as a kid. It’s probably quoted more often than any other verse in the Bible.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
This is a very clear declaration of God’s impartial and universal love for all mankind. No one is left out. He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.
So, does that mean God loves all the wicked, evil people in the world who are causing great harm? Absolutely.
It doesn’t mean God loves or approves of the wicked deeds and attitudes of these people. But God does still love them as His children.
Now, you may be thinking: James, how can you say that? Because of this verse I just quoted from John, Chapter 3. God didn’t wait for everyone on earth to be perfect human beings before He loved us by sending Jesus to show and be the Way of salvation. God doesn’t wait for you and me to be perfect human beings today before He loves us. He loves us first. He loves us always.
Does God really love everyone? Ask Jesus
If you want to get a good idea of how God loves all His children, all you really need to do is look at how Jesus loved people.
He reminded his disciples, and that includes you and me,
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19 NIV
How does this apply to loving everyone? Well, when Jesus loved someone, it meant that he had seen the Father love them.
And who did Jesus love? Just take a minute or two and think about all the people Jesus expressed love to. Obviously his disciples, and those who would listen to him. He even loved those who didn’t understand or accept what he had to say. He kept pouring out his love on them.
He loved men, women, and children equally, which you can see by the way he ministered to and healed them. And when he saw multitudes of people reaching out for help, he loved them.
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. Matthew 14:14 KJV
He loved the people who were discarded by society and rejected by the religious authorities. He ministered to sinners and healed lepers.
He came to help the people who needed help. That’s called love.
Did Jesus love the Pharisees?
I think you could even say he loved the Pharisees and those who rejected him. When Jesus rebuked them, it was really an effort to help them, to expose their hypocrisy so it could be healed.
And to this point, Jesus tells us to love our enemies.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:44-48 NLT
Jesus would not have told us to love our enemies if he wasn’t already doing it himself. And if he was loving his enemies, it means he saw God loving His enemies.
Why did Jesus tell us to love our enemies?
And on top of that, Jesus points out that everything he tells us is what God tells him to tell us.
For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say. John 12:49, 50 NIV
In other words, Jesus not only saw God love everyone, including those who might be thought of as enemies, he heard God tell him to tell us to love everyone, including our enemies.
That’s about as clear as it can get.
What if you don’t want to love your enemies?
But if you’re not loving your enemies in the way Jesus wants you to, and in fact you don’t want to love, or even try to love them, then the best thing to do is to come up with some reason why God doesn’t love them and you’re off the hook. But that’s not the way it works in Jesus’s world.
So, if God loves everyone, does that mean we’re supposed to love people who have caused harm to us and our loved ones, our families, our churches, even our country or the whole world?
Well, the writer of Hebrews answers this question in an indirect sort of way and sheds light on a really important aspect of Jesus’s mindset. By the way, this is a prophecy about the Messiah from Psalm 45:7 (see below)
In Psalm 45:7 it’s a prophecy of the Messiah. In Hebrews 1:9, it shows how this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.Hebrew 1:9 NIV
What did Jesus hate?
The point here is that Jesus hated wickedness. The text doesn’t say he hated the person doing or thinking that wickedness. He hated the wickedness itself, but he could still love the person.
This is a real game changer. You can love someone but you can hate the wickedness being done. Jesus could separate the wickedness from the person and love the person.
And where did he get this approach? Directly from his heavenly Father. He does what he sees the Father do.
And that brings us back to the verses I just quoted from Matthew, Chapter 5:45 that God “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” God loves the just and the unjust.
Jesus is using this as a metaphor his listeners can understand to explain God’s love for everyone.
Getting ready for Christmas
So let’s bring this idea of loving everyone back to getting ready for Christmas.
If God sent Jesus to earth in the first place because of His great love for all mankind, then I can’t think of any better way to get ready for Christmas than to love all mankind ourselves.
Now you’re probably thinking: Hold on James! That’s a tall order. I can’t love all mankind. First of all, I don’t know everyone. How can I love someone I don’t know or even know that they exist?
That’s a fair question. Well, you can start by loving and expressing more love to the people you do know. And you know who I’m talking about, those folks you know but have no love in your heart for.
And the people you already love, well, love them more than you have in the past. And not just more human love. Love them with the love of God. Love them the way Jesus would. Cherish the spiritual qualities they express.
Does God really love everyone? Then you can too
Now let’s come back to this idea of loving all mankind, all those people out in the world. You know they all exist, but you don’t who they are. They’re different from you. They have different values, different religious and political beliefs, and they’re living their lives in ways you may or may not agree with.
Is it really possible to love all these people? Well, of course it’s possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
If you try to love them with your own limited sense of love, it’s actually impossible. The only way to love all mankind is to set aside your own personal love and do what Jesus did. See what God is doing and do that.
Can you “see” God loving all mankind? Whenever that seems like a giant leap of faith, I remind myself that God loved the whole world so much that he sent Jesus to us. When I look at things from this perspective, I can see that God loves the whole world. And that helps me begin to love all mankind.
Learning to love yourself
Two or three years ago, I was praying one morning about loving my neighbor as myself. I was thinking about Jesus’s conversation with an expert in Jewish religious law. They were talking about which commandments were the most important. Part of the answer to that question was the command to love your neighbor as yourself. And the man asked Jesus,
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29 NLT
And then Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, driving home the lesson that everyone is your neighbor.
So that morning, I was praying to love all my neighbors all over the world, as I loved myself. I still had trouble actually loving myself unconditionally, so I just focused on loving all my neighbors. I deeply pondered God’s love for all His children and I knew that I didn’t have to manufacture love from within myself to love everyone with. I realized I could just love everyone with God’s love.
Really loving everyone
The more I thought and prayed about this, the more I could see God’s love for everyone and I finally got to the point where I could say, and mean it, that I loved all God’s children. I felt a genuine spiritual affection for everyone all over the world, past, present, and future. It was an amazing experience and I felt transported to another world for just a minute or two.
Then suddenly it hit me. I actually did love all God’s children and I was one of them. So that meant I loved myself. For the first time in my life, I had a deep spiritual love for myself, not based on my accomplishments, or the external things we think make us worthy of love. I simply loved myself as a child of God, along with everyone else.
Just sharing this with you right now, brings it all back to me. It’s such a powerful awareness.
The power of all-inclusive love
I think there’s something really important to this collective and all-inclusive aspect of love. If you love some of God’s children and not others, is not really a complete sense of love. To love everyone but yourself is not really love. When you discover this spiritual love for all mankind, collectively and universally, it will magnify the love you already have for others and show you love you didn’t know you were capable of giving and receiving.
And there’s another aspect of God’s love for everyone, receiving this love. If you’re having trouble receiving and accepting God’s love for you, maybe you need to fully receive and accept the fact that God loves everyone. Because if God only loves some of His children, it’s not really love. It’s favoritism. God “sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” God gives His love to the just and the unjust.
As you start thinking about Christmas, I encourage you to embrace in a deeper spiritual way than you ever have before, God’s love for all mankind. This prepares room in your heart to receive more of God’s love, more of Christ’s appearing. And it opens you up to express more of God’s love to those around you.
What would happen if you felt so powerfully God’s love for all His children, that everyone you came in contact with experienced God loving them? I can’t think of any better way to get ready for Christmas.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Matthew 23:24 NIV
24 You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
John 3:16 NLT
16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 5:19 NIV
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Matthew 14:14 KJV
14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
Matthew 5:44-48 NLT
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
John 12:49, 50 NIV
49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.
50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.
Hebrew 1:9 NIV
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
Psalm 45:7 NIV
7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
Luke 10:29 NLT
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”