Two readers have posted excellent questions to my blog of a few days ago by this same title. On the basis of this blog “Anonymous” even labelled me extremely arrogant and unsaved . I understand his or her consternation.
In his quote D. A. Carson, probably the worlds foremost New Testament scholar (Doctorate from Cambridge) notes that the Bible consistently labels sinners as God’s enemies. That is what makes his love so amazing and extravagant. He loves those upon his anger/wrath rests. Is it possible to distinguish wrath from hatred? The Bible often describes God’s hatred of evil-doers. “You [God] hate all evildoers” (Ps. 5:5). “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Mal. 1:2-3). Ps 11:5 reads, “The Lord’s soul…hates the wicked. Ps 106:40 even tells us that God “abhorred” Israel. And the Israelites were his favorites.
This is what makes God’s love so amazing. He loves his enemies (might we say those he hates) with an extavagant love. To understand this we need to remember that love is an action whereas hatred is a feeling. Carson wants us to know that God served and loved us even when he didn’t like us. If God did this for us, we are duty bound to do the same.
Reconciliation with his enemies cost him his Son’s death by slow agonizing torture. For this reason Jesus tells us to love our enemies. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:44-45). Why? God loved his enemies. For this reason D. A. Carson can write “so why should love and hatred be exclusive in us? ” If God loved those that he hated, so should we, and we should love them extravagantly. Remember, love is something we do. Hatred is something we feel. We can serve and love those that we don’t like.