Mark 12:30 NKJV - And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength...’
Religion seeks to regulate behavior through repetition, rigor, and in a very real way, comparative analysis. Christianity, on the other hand, seeks to release dynamic and real relationships, first with God, and then with others based upon a simple guiding and over-arching truth: Love. In its truest state, Christianity is a relationship that restrains negative behavior and releases positive actions because of the love one has for his/her Creator, and the object of that Creator’s affection: His creation.
1 John 4:7-8 MESSAGE - …Let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love.
This is love that is a CHOICE, thus, Christ could command it and John could compare it the very Nature of God Himself. It is a sacrificial love. It is love that is the "deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle.” It loves without condition. It simply says, "I Love You." This is the kind of Love God has for us, and the type of love He wants us to return to Him and express to others!
Dr. Ken Ulmer, Senior Pastor of the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, said it this way:
“God is love. Love is not just something that He does. It’s what He is. It follows then that we are never more godly, never more like God, than when we love…We cannot fulfill the first commandment to love God without obeying the second command to love our neighbor. Nor can we avoid this problem by narrowing our definition of ‘neighbor’ to people ‘in our neighborhood’ – that is, to those of our family, race, perspective, economic or intellectual level, value system, or religion. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), Jesus made the world my neighbor by qualifying anyone God puts in my path, or who needs me, as ‘my neighbor.’”
Dr. Tobey Montgomery