More than any other characteristic, Jesus described love as the quintessential mark of His followers. John 13:34-35 declares, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is the evidence that we are disciples of Jesus. This truth is reinforced by Jesus’s answer to the question concerning the greatest commandment. Jesus states that loving God and loving our neighbor are the most important truths of all the Law (Matthew 22:36-40). The love that characterizes followers of Jesus is to be so comprehensive, that it includes God, brothers, and sisters in Christ and even our enemies (1 John 4:7-18, Luke 6:27-36).
Loving God is the holy and appropriate response to who He is and to the love He demonstrates towards us. In Deuteronomy 30, God offers His covenant to His people. He reveals Himself and His desire that we choose life. God declares,
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
God desires that we love Him, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. Growing followers love God and they love others. This is the covenant response to God’s love for us.
In describing our new life in Christ and the new virtues that we are to proactively put on, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to put on love, which he describes as the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3:14). This love is to characterize our interpersonal relationships. New people in Christ have healthy relationships and healthy communication because they walk in love (Ephesians 4:20-5:2). True love, described in 1 Corinthians 13, comes from Jesus. When we follow Jesus and He lives His supernatural life through us, we live a life of love. As Jesus states in John 15:9-12, we love because God loves us. This love is a vertical response back to God and a horizontal response to others. Growing disciples love God and others.