Painting of an early Christian Agape Feast. Image via WikipediaChristians have alot to say about their love for God, and that God loves them abundantly. They claim to have a special love relationship nonbelievers cannot ever have. What does it mean to love God? Before we can answer this, we need to know what love is. Any dictionary will probably define it as being "a deep feeling of affection or attachment to another person (or even an animal) we value". There are different kinds of love, shared between: parent-child, friend-to-friend, adult lovers, and human-animal. Love eminates from human relationships. It is emotional and, in healthy relationships, also rational.
This feeling is also extended to God by devoted followers. Beyond this feeling, "love" transforms into something entirely different. Why? First, we must ask how we can love a God who is invisible and transcendent?
Christians are not free to only feel love towards God, or be thankful for what this God provides, and leave it at that. They cannot act upon their love for God as human-to-human relationships do. The transcendent christian God sets up a different type of love relationship: "This is love for God: to obey His commands" (see 1Jn.5:3, 1Jn.2:5, Jn.14:15,21 NIV.) "Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them..."1Jn.3:24,NIV. Following biblical directives is the way to show one's love for God. It is also the way to love God. "Trust and obey, for there's no other way...", says the hymn. Have "faith" (trust) and obey the New Testament!
"Love" in the New Testament is not erotic love (eros), nor intrafamilial love (storge), nor brotherly love (phileo). Godly love is "agape": the exclusive christian "love". Agape is not born from human emotion. It is grossly misleading to say one loves the Christian God or that the Christian God loves us. Christians agape God and God agapes them. It is a supernatural term; not an earthly one. Agape is expressed by the believer via obedience-not affection. It is not to be confused with the love we feel toward others. It also is not unconditional, because this God does not agape those who reject New Testament Truth (Narrow is the way).
A definition of agape in the New Testament is unclear as to what it consists of. 1Cor. 13:4-7 says what it is NOT, and when stating what it is, we are left with: "...[agape] rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseverses." (NIV) All this is consistent with what a believer in a cult would be expected to do. "It's not a religion, but a relationship." How Orwellian! Long live Big Brother Jesus!