Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."Some say "believe in God as you understand him"! Scripture implies that you must love God. One can't get by with "love as you understand it"! Why? Because apparently people fail to understand love! I won't go into a long dissertation on the types of love for many have done that before me, but for your enlightenment, the word "love" in the English language doesn't suffice. It needs further delineation.
"Love"in English, can be broken down into four types in the Greek: storge, philia, eros and agape types of love. Of course we can love a person with all four types or maybe only one. Sometimes people have no love. The lack of love is called "hate".
I used to say "I hate John!" for instance when I was a child. Mom would always respond "No, you don't hate him. You just don't like him!" Mom was using the agape type of the word and she was right! Agape boils down to a moral type of love and for those whose morality comes from God, it's a righteous love demonstrated by God. When people say "It's Godly love." that's too simple. God loves us with profound love and we "shalt agapao the Lord thy God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength" to paraphrase Mark 12:30. However, God's ability to love dwarfs our own!
This agapao (moral love) we are to have is defined right there: We are to love God entirely and without reservation. We are to love him in a sense that we would never hurt him in any manner! That includes emotional hurt, but then, we do that many times each day by sinning against him!
John explains God's feelings for his creation quite well in John 3:16: "for God so agapao the world!" How much did God love us? "That he gave his only Son, " in our place! Why? So that we shall not perish!
That's the specific type of agapao we are to have when loving God! Our desire is that God exist forever and as "I AM" he always IS! Our desire is for him to remain the eternal God.
Then in Mark 12:31 We are to agapao our neighbor as ourself", applying it in first person. With all our being our heart's desire must be (not optional) that we want everyone to have eternal life. We must never want any person, regardless of their sin, to perish for eternity! That's why "Thou shalt not kill," is so important! By killing a person we may unwittingly send that person to eternal death. By murdering the one we are to agapao, we kill him mortally and also with the second death; spiritually!
I often ask "Are we to love even Hitler because his sins are many and great?" I have no right to condemn Hitler because my sins too are many and great!
Abortionists are to be included in our agapao. God commands it. That is certainly true. We should never want any person, even Hitler, to die neither mortal nor spiritual deaths because the first may lead to the latter. The Christian must agapao people like Hitler enough to want them to have eternal life. God wanted Hitler to live forever! I must too! That is agapao!
Agapao does not imply anything else! We are to love them enough to go out in the world and preach to them! With Hitler, Dietrich Bonnhoeffer preached to him because he didn't want Hitler to perish, but directly because Hitler was sending men and women to a mortal death and for many a spiritual death! Hitler was killing the same people twice with one swoop!
Agapao does not mean the following:
- Brotherly love (philia). We aren't to treat others as brothers unless they are.
- Sexual love (eros). Scripture makes it clear that we not love others, neither male nor female, in a sexual sense if they are not brothers and sisters in Christ and then it's to be done in marriage only!
- Love as family (storge). God and his children (those born again) are family. We of course have our immediate family who we storge, but the focus we are to have with them is agapao. Even though children are family we can hate their M.O. but we still must love part of them: their soul!
- Tolerate. When we fail to admonish and rebuke sinful people we are delivering them over to Satan who plans their second death. Tolerating without correcting is NOT loving. When one has agapao for another, it's hard, but they still can rebuke the other.
- Respect another. That means have deep admiration for another. That is not agapao! The only thing we can ADMIRE about evil people is that they are worth saving, but again, that's NOT respecting them. That's agapao! Respect implies that people have charactristics which command respect. God doesn't respect them because of their characteristics. Peter acknowledged that. "I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons". God doesn't expect us to respect anyone's personhood!
- Agree with. We are to agapao people who are 100% wrong. That's how God loves us, but he expects us to come to agreement with him. What we believe must be in accord with God's word. That is agapao. By disagreeing with a person's false perceptions is not hatred. It's agapao for God!
- There are many other type of things which agapao is NOT. We must love their soul, but their flesh belongs to Satan unless it has been reborn and become part of the family of God.
Some people believe that all sins are equal in God's eyes. He doesn't say that. The punishment for unconfessed sin is the same. The punishement is the same for one as for many sins. But people, even those who equate sin, have a disconnect in their thinking. If stealing is as bad as killing then it would imply that abortion is the same as killing millions of Jews. I believe that all sins are not equal and have written on that before. However, I believe that murder of unborn infants is the same as the murder of adult Jews. God does not have any "buts" in "Thou shalt not kill!" As such, I have no repect for Hitler and no repect for the abortionist. I DO NOT have any admiration for them at all. Their deeds cancel out any admiration!
On the other hand I agapao abortionists and even Hitler! It is God's desire that they all be saved, and that's my desire. If Hitler confessed his sins in the fleeting moments of his life, I don't respect him, but I would be pleased if he turned to God and had eternal life! He certainly doesn't deserve it, but God's grace is sufficient to cover Hitler as he did the Hitler-type, the apostle Paul!