How inclusive is God’s love?

God’s love is absolutely inclusive of all His creation. We know John 3:16 makes this claim explicit: “For God so loved the world." How much more inclusive could God’s love be? Should our love then not be equally inclusive? I for one believe yes.

So then why are Bible-believing Christians so commonly reviled as “haters”? Mostly because we believe many biblical doctrines that are anathema to secular orthodoxy. Among these are our belief in the existence and sovereignty of the biblical God Jehovah against whom all humans have sinned. We believe that our God “gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16b). The biblical God is a God of infinite love, truth, and holiness, who shows those moral qualities in all His dealings with us fallen humans.

Secularism insists that matter and energy are all that exist. Most of the estimated 4,200 world religions disagree with secularism here.

The NIV Application Commentary notes:

Judaism rarely (or never) spoke of God’s loving the world outside of Israel. God desires to reach this world through Israel, his child. It is a uniquely Christian idea to say that God’s love extends beyond the limits of race and nation... John tells his readers elsewhere that they are not to love the world (1 John 2:15–17) because it is a place of disbelief and hostility (cf. John 15:18–19; 16:8). Carson comments effectively, “There is no contradiction between this prohibition and the fact that God does love it [the world]. Christians are not to love the world with the selfish love of participation; God loves the world with the selfless, costly love of redemption.” (1)

How much does Christ love the world? So much that he “freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. (Rev. 1:5). No other worldview or ideology includes that kind of self-sacrificing agape-love. Clearly, secularism does not. Secularists tend to brand as “haters” everyone who does not affirm all the beliefs and behaviours that they embrace.

Christian churches characteristically express the inclusiveness of God’s love by their universal welcome of all to enter their public services. Over the years I’ve noticed this in hundreds of churches across Canada, the US, and India that have welcomed me not only into their services, but also into their pulpits. Never have I seen any list of people who are excluded from their universal welcome at their church doors.

These churches implement Jesus’ summary in Matthew 22:37-40,

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[cf. Deut. 6:5] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [cf. Lev. 19:18] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Secularists like the second part, but dismiss the first part on which the second is based.

That does not mean that these inclusive congregations have no criteria for who are given leadership roles in their congregations. Recently governments have appropriately required such screening for those who work with children. We can expect congregations to screen out leadership candidates with heretical beliefs and immoral lifestyles. This expresses love for the flock, who may be misled by errant leaders. It also shows a love for our God of love, truth, and holiness.

This does not imply hate or lovelessness, as secularists and liberals insist. It implies responsible stewardship of the congregation. Sadly, some congregations in our time boast of their inclusive love by their accepting atheists, unrepentant adulterers, and practicing homosexuals into their leadership positions. This is not an evidence of God’s inclusive love, but of conformity to the godless spirit of our age.

Recall John’s warning to his flock that they are not to love the world (1 John 2:15–17) because the world is a place of disbelief and hostility to the Christian gospel. Secularists and liberals seem to focus more on how everyone feels than on God’s love, truth, and holiness in perfect harmony.

Christ’s agape-love was shown in His atoning sacrifice for our real sin and guilt so that we might be transformed into His holy bride, not to generate some shallow inclusiveness of all humans regardless of what they believe, say, or do.

Yes, all humans are created in God’s image and so are worthy of our agape-love and respect as God has already shown them in Christ’s atoning death for our sin. That inclusiveness of love and respect for our fellow image-bearers of God is not to be confused into a destructive inclusiveness of affirming all humans’ false beliefs and immoral behaviours.

Granted, some Christians and some churches have reacted badly to the false beliefs and immoral behaviours of fellow image-bearers. For example, some parents have shunned and shamed members of their own family who have committed adultery or divorced or declared themselves to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (LGBTQ).

All family members warrant our storge-love (family love), as well as our agape-love (self-sacrificing love for all) and respect, regardless of what they believe, say, or do. For us to disagree with what someone believes, says, or does is not to express “hate” for them, as secular orthodoxy insists. We may not like (phileo-love) everything that some members of our family believe, say, or do, but that does not imply that we should throw them out of the house or bar them from family activities, as some have sadly done.

Often secularists repeat the maxim “Love is love is love” as an alleged self-evident truth and popular “Pride” parade maxim to end all debate over the sex ethics promoted by the LGBTQ community and now by Education departments across the world.

Millions of Christian parents are frustrated by the tsunami of this recent trend pushed on them and their kids by our cultural elites, especially our education leaders, in the name of safety from bullying. Recently the report of “The Every Teacher Project on LGBTQ-inclusive education in Canada’s K-12 Schools” promised a “tool kit” to help teachers indoctrinate every child in every class to embrace the sex ethics promoted by LGBTQ activists.

Is this a wake-up call for Christian parents to become their kids’ primary educators on moral and spiritual matters as never before? Our God is infinitely loving, truthful, and holy. He calls Christians to reflect that moral character in all we believe, say, and do.

Secularists are eager to shape our kids’ beliefs and behaviours. Should we let them do so by default? One recent text reports, “Only about 15 percent of adolescents have had conversations about sexuality with their parents.” (2) Is the same true in the church? Should that be so?

How inclusive is your love? What are we teaching our kids about this?



2. Jerrold S. Greenberg, Clint E. Bruess, and Sara B. Oswalt (2014) Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality (5th ed.) 79.

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About the author


Al Hiebert, PhD, currently serves as President of Growing Up In Christ, Inc. Previously he served as the first Executive Director of Christian Higher Education Canada, as Assistant Director of the Association for Biblical Higher Education and for 33 years as Professor of Theology and Philosophy, first at Providence University College and Seminary and then at Briercrest Seminary.

About the author