We all want to be loved, and most of us would agree that the world would be a better place if everyone loved one another better. Which means we cared for those we disagreed with politically or morally. That there would be less violence and more peace, which means there would be less fear and more hope.
The Gospel is God’s great demonstration of love. That he would care for those (all of us) who have turned from God and fallen in short in various ways. That he would even love and be willing to forgive the most heinous of people, that no person, no matter what they have done, is beyond God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus.
This idea that God and the Bible is really all about love is a popular concept even among non-Christians (and that’s not a bad thing!). We often hear people wonder why Christians seem to get hung up on any particular issue when they should be more concerned about being loving and graceful to others. After all, isn’t that what Jesus was like?
There is a lot of validity to that. We should always strive to be more loving and full of grace for others. After all, if Christian’s desire to be more like Christ, we should want to emulate him in this.
Even Christians will criticize “other” Christians who they think should care less about what people do and simply love them.
But in this we need to remember two things. One, you can love someone without condoning what God calls sinful. It isn’t unloving to believe in God’s design for sex, for example. That does not mean you hate someone who disagrees with you. In fact, in my experience some of the most loving people I have met have been Christians who were friends with people who did things they personally disagreed with!
But here’s the second, which is the main point. While God absolutely cares about our physical condition (i.e. our health, joy, happiness, etc.), he cares even more about our spiritual condition.
Yes, Jesus cared for people’s physical needs around him, but he cared even more about their spiritual condition.
The main reason Jesus came is to forgive sinners so that we could have a relationship with God. Sometimes he demonstrated this by healing someone physically, but those healings were never an end to themselves, they were an end to something greater.
In fact, Jesus even told us that loving one another, while very important, was not the most important thing that we are to do. The Pharisees tried to test Jesus by asking him what the greatest commandment was. His response (Matthew 22, emphasis mine),
And he said to him, “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.”
The greatest commandment, what the entire Old Testament law was built around was God first, others second. Yes, loving God will lead us to love others, but loving God is the main message of the Bible.
God showed “his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) In the same way, we show our love for God by giving our lives to him in the same way. Which means there will be times where even though we don’t understand why God wants us to do certain things or live a certain way, we still submit to him.
Loving others is not the most important teaching in the Bible, loving God is. Which means people on the outside may criticize your beliefs. But if you love God, the people who know you (both Christians and non-Christians) will know that you love them too.