The love that God has for the believer is different from the love God has for the unbeliever. If this were not so, then all would go to heaven and none would be eternally in hell (see Rob Bell’s book Love Wins where he makes this exact point and concludes that all will end up in heaven, On second thought, don’t see his book, it is wrong.).
If it is true that God loves people differently, then it must be true that we love people differently. This would have to be the case if we were being perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect or if we were born into the image of Christ.
So, the question to consider now is: Are we told to specially love one group above another?
We are told unequivocally to love. We are to love our enemies. As we love others we are to let God do the judging and vengeance. God loves the world, but He also has special love to those in His family, His faithful children.
I think we operate on the same principle.
I am never told to love my enemies as Christ loved the Church, but I am told to love my wife as Christ loved the church. Do I love all women like I love my wife?
What about this one:
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
There is a benevolent love for all, and an especial love for those in our Christian family.
There is also a warning about taking care of widows. We are called to care for them all, but especially for those in our family. If you don’t show this special love for your own widows, you are worse than an unbeliever!
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
The bottom line is this:
God is loving and willing to forgive anyone (love covers sin–forgiveness is based on love). His love is available for all as He loves all.
To reject this love, to not love back, short-circuits God’s love and you’ve now moved into the realm of being hated by God.
The believer–the one who faithfully follows God–loves all just as God does. We are not to hate anyone, but to let God take care of them in His just judgment and vengeance.
At the same time, there’s a special call to love those we are especially obligated to love. To deny this is to deny the faith because it does mockery to the character of God.
“therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”