Summary: Within the religions of the world, it is not uncommon to hear that the greatest thing to obtain is faith. Yet, the Great Commandment given by God in the Bible was not to have faith but rather, to love Him
"You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt 22:37-39 NLT)
Faith - in and of itself - is useless unless it is energized by God's love. This love command is the foundation of the Christian walk. The reason God wants Christians to love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind is that is how He loves them! (Matt 22:37-40)
God's very essence is love (See 1 John 4:7-10). He has always been love, even before He created man and women. He has always sought to have a close relationship with His children. Human Beings were made for this love. Their entire story is wrapped up within it. Love is the energy of life and is why humans were created. Love is their eternal destiny.
Christianity is the only religion that sets forth the Creator of the Universe as Love. All of creation resounds with the proof that God is love. Within Him is found all the fullness of excellence, beauty, and perfection. He is the author of all that is good in creation. This truth is taught throughout the Bible, beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
When God created Adam, He said to him, "I will make a partner suitable to you" (Gen 2:18). God was declaring the hidden purpose of His heart from eternity past. The Holy Spirit reveals that the mystery of the ages is that this promise ultimately speaks of Jesus and the Church (See Eph. 5:25-6:1).
God proved He is love by choosing to walk among humanity and die in their place (See John 3:16). He now reaches out His arms in tender affection with nail-pierced hands most purely and intimately.
The very nature and essence of love require that it must grow in a willing heart. Sadly, many are not yet able to experience the fundamental reality that God loves and enjoys them. There are even those who would argue that God could not possibly be in love with them.
What a person believes about God is the most important thing contained in their mind. It affects everything about them. For too many people, God seems remote, impersonal, and unknowable. Because of that, many suffer from an inability to feel forgiven, nagged by doubt and mistrust of Him. A dysfunctional picture of God results in a dysfunctional way of praying. Jesus revealed this truth when He asked;
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Luke 11:11-13).
Those that had an earthly father who was never around when they needed him, or has experienced trauma, abuse, or extreme discipline, will have a challenging time pursuing an intimate relationship with the heavenly Father.
The Bible speaks of two types of love in the Greek language - "Agape" and "Phileo." "Agape" has been defined as a self-sacrificial love committed to the highest good. It is love that is not dependent on the emotions. Without this love, no one could be saved. Through "agape" love, God set aside His wrath against mankind and poured it out on the Beloved Son.
"Phileo" love is best defined as tender affection, love from the emotions in a person's soul. It is that kind of love that responds to love from another. It is the love of true friends, the love of a child for his parents or another child, love between a husband and wife.
"Phileo" love can be casual or intense. It can't be relegated to just human emotion. Jesus used this word in describing the Father's love for Him (John 5:20). "Phileo" is also used in describing the Father's feelings toward all the Son's disciples (John 16:27).
The Bridegroom King
The Bible unveils the ultimate purpose of creating mankind at the very end. It reveals the day when the Bride of Christ meets her heavenly Bridegroom, and the marriage covenant is celebrated.
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." (Rev 19:7 NIV)
Some say that the Bride of Christ is the universal Church and not each individual member of the Church. However, there can be no difference in God's love, even if there was only one person left on the planet. This is the most profound mystery of God's love! The King of the Universe, the Beautiful God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the supreme Lord of all creation is so passionately in love with every individual person on this planet that the Bible describes it as the love of a groom for his bride! His heart is full of deep affection for every Christian, for He takes great "delight" in them "as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride" (Isa 62:4-5 NIV).