John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own.”
How does the world, i.e., the world that is opposed to Christ and all He represents, love? We are told in the verse above that the world does show love, i.e., “brotherly love” or phileo, as rendered in the Greek language in which this verse was originally written. So, what is “phileo” love? According to Strong’s concordance, this love is defined as “to be a friend (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling)).” In other words, this love is an emotional feeling, a fondness, an attachment of affection. This is the type of love that the world opposed to Christ loves others in the world that are also opposed to Christ.
An example of this is the relationship between Pilate and Herod, who became “friends” in their involvement in the crucifixion of Christ (Luke 23:12). Sinners enjoy a certain allegiance or fellowship with others who are like-minded. Such worldly friends, rather than calling someone out for their sinful lifestyle, will join with them and even encourage them in it. This type of “friendship” is the type of love that the Bible tells us is the opposite of the love of God, for you see, God’s love “rejoices not in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth (I Corinthians 13:6).”
So how do you love, and with what type of love do you want to be loved; the love of the world, or the love of God? God’s love, “agape” in the Greek, is not a feeling, but an action. It is defined, again in Strong’s Concordance, as “a deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.” Elsewhere I’ve heard it defined as “self-sacrificial service to others.” It is a love that is based on God’s Word. It is the kind of love that is truthful with others. It is the love that is willing to risk personal rejection by telling another person that his or her actions are a sin against a holy God, according to the Word of God, and that if one persists in those actions they risk the judgment of God against sin. It is the love that will reach out even to an enemy, when he or she is in need, to actually help them in some way, and that at the same time will be persistent in sharing with them the truth about sin, judgment, and hell, as well as repentance, forgiveness and eternal life.
The world doesn’t love Christians with “phileo” love, because the world recognizes that Christians aren’t in league with them. The world may even hate the believer. Nevertheless, the believer is commanded by Christ to love the unbeliever with “agape” love. And if they are His followers, they will obey Him, even if such obedience leads to their own death, for that’s exactly the kind of love with which Jesus loves the world (John 3:16).