It’s very surprising (to say it kindly) how many people confuse acceptance and love, assuming that if we simply accept everyone and everything (“love people”) everyone will be magically transformed. Love requires much more insight, vision and wisdom.
Scripture clearly states that, “God is love” (1 Jn.4:8, 16). Scripture also says, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God” (Ro.11:22). From these two bits of revelation about God, we learn something very important about, both, God and love. Love consists of either kindness or severity, depending on what is required to promote the highest good, the best outcome. Determining how much kindness or severity to manifest requires insight, vision and wisdom. A reactionary emotional response is not sufficient for manifesting love. One must contemplate, analyze, reflect upon and evaluate the situation or issue at hand to decide the measure of kindness and the measure of severity appropriate.
There are many Old Testament examples of God manifesting severe love (I sometimes use the phrase “severe kindness”). The approach Jesus took toward the moneychangers in the court of the temple or the way He often spoke to the scribes and Pharisees would be an example of severe love. He knew the highest good of all involved required such severity in certain instances. To see the big picture and determine an approach took wisdom. An example of kindness might be found in His response to the woman caught in adultery. Notice, however, He did not simply accept her behavior, He told her to “sin no more.”
Love is complex. It is important to realize that being severe when you should be kind is not loving and being kind when you should be severe is not loving. Many well meaning Christians err by approaching important social issues by being “kind” when the situation requires a much greater degree of severity if we are to actually manifest love. Love requires a significant degree of maturity, not a simple, shallow emotional response of “acceptance.”
Are we to love people? Yes, with a proper, wise and appropriate expression thereof.