To God, the short answer to Tina Turner’s question is: “everything.”
One only has to consider the first (and most important) of God’s 10 Commandants. Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” When Jesus was asked by the religious leaders what the most important commandment was, He answered them with the above scripture and added: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
So without a doubt, love is something that God is primarily interested in. Although we are commanded to love God, we know from our own human experiences that love cannot be demanded, only freely given.
In our English language, the word “love” is a watered down term and has several degrees and facets, and some of what we call love is really something else altogether. There is:
Love at first sight.
Love for a spouse.
Love for certain foods.
Love of an activity.
Love for your child.
Love for a friend.
Love for extended family members (loved ones).
Love for your life’s primary endeavor.
For this subject, I want to narrow the definition to a particular kind of love. Meaningful loving actions toward someone who because of their status in life, they could never be able to reciprocate. An example would be someone caring for a quadriplegic spouse or child or providing comfort for the extremely ill or destitute. Real love, absent of guile, self-serving agenda or payback.
All the above is merely “setting up the board” in order to address a commonly heard question relating to God and love. That question is: If God wanted us to love Him, why didn’t He just design us to love Him? The answer lies in the nature of love itself. By its nature, love has to be given willingly and free from coercion. It is interesting to me that in our present society, even telling the basic Gospel story to someone, including the consequences of not accepting God’s offer is seen by many as coercion instead of what it actually meant to be… persuasion. If I am able to talk someone into something, someone can simply come along and talk them out of it. However when someone is persuaded, they weigh what they have heard with their reason and experiences and exercising their free will, they decide one way or another on the issue.
God the Creator has given us physical life with amazing physical bodies, senses, and a brain to help us navigate through life and even contemplate our own existence. And here on the earth, good and evil are both present in all their activities and actions. Within us we feel the tug between good and evil in our own hearts and we see and learn (usually in hindsight) what actions those feelings can lead to. Sometimes, we don’t like what we see in our own lives. Despite the conclusion of science that we evolved, (“everything from nothing”), we instinctively suspect that there is more to it and sense that in the end justice will prevail and good will win over evil. We are programmed like that, that’s why our novels and movies overwhelmingly have good endings. God has created so many things for our upkeep and pleasure, sunshine, water, the ability to grow food, medicines, beauty in flowers and a variety of landscapes to enjoy. He has done all this in love which flows out of His nature of goodness and what does He want from us? What can we do for Him? Like the ill and destitute, it seems that there is really nothing tangible we can do for God. But in reality, there is something significant we can do. We can freely give God our heartfelt love and respect, taking special time to express our appreciation and thankfulness of all that He has done on our behalf. Furthermore, we can desire to live our lives in a way to be obedient to His instructions. His instructions are for our benefit and blessing. Is that really too much for Him to ask? He’s the giver of life, so what do we owe Him for giving us life? I think we owe Him everything, but especially our love.
What’s love got to do with it? For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus said: This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.(John 15:12-14). God gave His best, His only Son. Jesus willingly laid down His life. God has loved us, the question is: Are we going to love Him back and take Him up on His offer of salvation? I hope so.