God does not need our love. He desires that we love him and love one another.
He commanded that we do this and has defined the traits of such love among
humans. But why?
1 Cor 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails...”
Love must encompass not just merely some of these traits, but all of them. The perfect example of this love was lived out in the life of Jesus Christ. He demonstrated love more fully then any man is capable.
Humans will always struggle and so often fail to meet any of these traits in our relationship with others and certainly with God. Yet, God desires that we strive to achieve the essence of such love; to trade our selfish, negative ways and emotions for the rare, however temporary experience of unconditional love. God knows that we will try and fail, so why does He command this of us? Why?
Before we attempt to answer this question, let’s begin with a brief look at human history.
The command to love God in Deuteronomy came on the heels of Israel’s 400 years in the land of Egypt amidst all manner of idols. The Pharaoh stood at the top of a long list of gods. Four hundred years in such a society will influence how you relate to God. His people were confused, putting God somewhere on the same totem pole as their false Egyptian gods - incapable of giving them hope. Love took a back seat to the carnal lifestyles of the time. And, where love failed sin abounded. But God was patient with His people as he furthered His plan of Reconciliation. In Deuteronomy it’s striking to see God basically starting over again with Israel after the first generation of the Exodus died off in the wilderness. God looked past their failings, past their gripes and complaining and set the stage for all generations to come to know something of His love in the person of Jesus Christ – our perfect Lover.
God deserves our love. But perhaps the full answer rests in His divine purpose for mankind to love. On earth, Christian love, when fully embraced, blocks the pitfalls of negative human emotion and will. We see this truth in God’s words of 1 Cor 13: 4-8. Consider that the desirable traits of these verses are necessary for us to overcome the daily bondages of this world. But in heaven, there will be no impatience, no unkindness, no pride, no rudeness, no selfishness, no anger, no wrong and no evil. The love traits that God commands us to practice on earth will be unnecessary in heaven.
God is commanding us to love Him and our neighbor so that we might have some vague sense of the enriched life experience that unconditional love offers us in this world. Ours is a frail human love that struggles in our reach for everlasting hope. But if we strive towards the love traits that God desires of us, we are afforded a tiny peep hole into the inexpressible love that awaits us in heaven. There, God’s love and ours will meet to surpass all human understanding and will exceed human emotional capacity to be expressed. It will be revealed in our spirit songs of angelic worship that will exalt our Lord and never reach a final crescendo. We will love as God loves. Meanwhile, we must love as He commands because He is preparing us to experience the fullness of His indescribable love that awaits us when He takes us home. God has intended this for us from the Creation of mankind.
Will we acknowledge God’s purpose for human love? Will we reciprocate God’s love, and meet Him on such simple and beautiful terms, or will we try to figure out our own way to God?