Christians are called to “love thy neighbor”. Often that is interpreted, both inside and outside the church, as “let’s all get along and accept each other just as we are”. The Bible says we are called to live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18) and to honor and follow our elected officials (Rom. 13:1). Unbelievers wonder, why can’t evangelicals do that? Those that don’t understand Christianity or don’t accept it think that Evangelicals who openly profess their faith, hate Unbelievers… and that could not and should not be farther from the truth.
Foundational Bible Verses
The verses used to defend the concept of “love thy neighbor” happen to be called out by God as part of the single Greatest Commandment ever written by the Creator of the universe. Among other places, this same command by God is found in all three gospels (first three books of the New Testament).
Matthew 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Antagonism of Christians
So why do Evangelicals or Biblical Christians such as myself, challenge behaviors, like Abortion, if we’re supposed to to love everyone? Why can’t women preach on Sunday mornings to their congregations? What harm does that do? Why do Christians attack unbelievers and try to change them to conform to their narrow-minded, bigoted view of religion? And, of course, what about all the controversy associated with gender issues?
If the “Greatest Commandment” their God ever made was to love their neighbors and the rest of their Bible is foundational to that view, then why do they act like HIPPOCRATES?
The Unacceptable Answer
Note, in the verses above, God calls Biblical Christians (Evangelicals) to do TWO things, not just one. First, He commands us to love Him… and then… love our neighbor. Those who don’t accept the Bible as God’s Word understandably find this first command arrogant and prideful. How self-righteous must God be to demand that mankind love Him given all the bad things He did in the Old Testament and all the pain and suffering He has allowed down through history!
We Are To Love God Unconditionally
Regardless of these barriers, Christians are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (see 1 John 4:7-21 among many other verses). As sinners, we will always fall short of this goal on earth, but have been assured that this will not be the case in Heaven (Rev. 21:1-27). As hard as it may be for unbelievers to understand, true Christians trust that we will see the logic in why God has allowed horrific things like pain, death, suffering, and sin in general, to be present in this world. Perhaps even harder to accept, we will eventually understand why an eternal Hell exists for those who do not acknowledge these beliefs. The acceptance of all this, along with a belief that God actually loves us (because He has provided a way out of sin, through a belief in Christ – Rom. 5:8), can be summed up in one word, FAITH.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Of course, all this is totally unacceptable to those who don’t believe God exists and/or don’t believe the Bible represents His inerrant truth. The first group simply rejects the supernatural entirely, preferring to rely on what can be proven in the physical realm. The second group removes or reinterprets those parts of Scripture that don’t suit their personal morality.
The Biblical Christian Evangelical
For Biblical Christians who do accept God as presented in the Bible, on faith, let’s return to the Greatest Commandment and reconcile it with the title of this article, “Why Do Evangelicals Hate Unbelievers?”
First of all, Biblical Christians are commanded not to hate anyone, regardless of who they are or what they do. 1 Corinthians 13 is a whole chapter on what our love should look like toward others. When we don’t show that love, we are sinning and out of fellowship with God. Paul talks about the continuing sin of believers in Rom. 7:15-21 when he says that his body continues to do wrong even as his mind tells him to stop. Bottom line, Christians should show love to everyone, unconditionally, but we sin, and so we constantly fall short of that ideal.
Second, and this is what so many unbelievers miss, there is an order to the Greatest Commandment. Note in the verses at the top of this post that we are called to love the “Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” AND THEN “love your neighbor as yourself”. We are called to love God, first, then mankind. The simple truth is that to love God is to follow His Word, and sometimes those precepts fly in the face of accepting behaviors that are not promoted in the Bible. Those are the places, like abortion, where Christian beliefs run counter to our present societal norms. Further, Biblical Christians believe that the greatest expression of love one can offer to an unbeliever is to share the eternal truth of salvation through Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9). Those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, call this proselytizing.
It is not the intent of this article to provide Scriptural proof texts on the subjects of abortion, roles of women in ministry, gender controversies, salvation, etc. The intent is to explain why Christians try to impose these views on others. It is because God calls us to through His Word and, since we love and trust Him, we are compelled to offer these truths to all who are willing to listen.
1 Peter 3:15… but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
In offering our Christian views, note the words above “to anyone who asks…”. We are not to beat people over the head with the Bible. We are called to love people and share God’s truth with them in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way.
What Should the Biblical Christian Do
If one accepts, for a moment, that God is real and the Bible is His offering to mankind as a textbook for life, then how should the Biblical Christian navigate between the two components of the most important verse in the Scripture, the Greatest Commandment?
How does one love God by following His commands while, at the same time, loving our neighbors who reject many of those views?
That is the conundrum for the true believer, further compounded and clouded by our own sin nature. As God gives us Devine appointments to share His truth with a lost and dying world, we need to be confident in offering an answer to the hope we have in Christ, yet in a way that reflects God’s love, grace, and mercy.