Christian requirement to love

As a Christian, I am called to love everyone. Christians are expected to love both friends and enemies alike without exception. Hatred of anyone for any reason is a violation of what Christians are called to do by God.

There are numerous verses throughout the Bible, which included the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible or Old Testament), requiring the love of everyone. Not once does it say hatred is allowed for a single person or group. Hatred of sin is allowed, so long as it does not reach the point of hating the sinner.

Luke 6:35-36 says this:

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

There are no exceptions following the commandment to love. It is simply a requirement to love everyone. To not love someone or some group is not following God’s will for Christians.

The command for Christians to love is unconditional for the whole of humanity and is rooted in Judaism, as are all things Christian.

Leviticus or Vayikra in the Jewish Bible, Chapter 19, Verse 18 states:

You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

There are Christians who do hate someone else or some other group, which is a clear violation of God’s will for Christians. They may hate other Christians for not being the right type of Christian, other religions, or those with no religion of any kind. They may hate politicians, members of various political groups, or people who live in other countries, like Israel.

None of the hatred that exists comes from God. Whatever the target of hate might be, it is in clear violation of God’s will for Christians.

Despite being commanded to love, Christians remain quite human. We concede to darker impulses that do not come from God. Those darker impulses are absent of reason because there is nothing reasonable about defying God.

Any Christian who hates can make the choice to stop hating any time they choose, since hatred is a sin, and like all sins, can be given up with God’s help. There has to be the desire to let go of the darker impulses and embrace God.

Hillel the Elder was in Jerusalem about the same time Rabbi Yeshua, Jesus, was in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Rabbi Yeshua would have been familiar with Hillel and possibly even met this great man. His words continue to influence the Jewish people to this day.

The Jewish Virtual Library contains a small sample of quotes, with this one from the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a:

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: ‘Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.’

It does sum up the whole of Torah, which is the first five books in the Tanakh. The sentiment includes love for humanity because one does not treat someone despicably unless they lack love.

The same could be said for the whole of Christianity. As a Christian, I love the whole of humanity. It is not always easy, but do what I am commanded to do by God. 

For those Christians who hate, remember the words from John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

It was an act of love, not hate. 

Hatred is not an easy thing to give up. It is a strong temptation. Like all strong temptations, it can be fought by choosing to love even your greatest enemies.

To love everyone is the commandment given to all Christians by God without exception.

Bob Ryan is a writer who has an MBA. He is an American Christian Zionist who staunchly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He has been a weekly blogger at the Times of Israel since 2019.

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