You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.(Deuteronomy 6:5)
What is it to love God? When a lawyer came to Jesus and asked him “which is the great commandment in the Law”, he replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37–39)
Love God, that is Jesus’ summary of the foremost thing in religion. So what is it to love God?
It might be helpful to separate out two kinds of love. Sometimes we love someone because he or she does something good for us. I might love the doctor who successfully treats my illness, or the comedian who makes me feel happy. I might love a certain cricketer who entertains me, or the person who is a good listener. In all these examples, I don’t really know the person. I just love the benefits they bring me.
In the same way, it is possible to love God just for his blessings: life, the glories of the natural world, food or family. That is to love the blessing, but not the God!
The second kind of love, and the one Jesus has in mind, is to love God for who he is. It is to see God as a treasure in and of himself. It is to revel in the good character of God, and his grace. It is to see God as good in his very nature, and not just in the benefits you may gain.
Ancient religions used to offer sacrifices in order to buy off their gods, to appease them. You might also have offered a sacrifice to try and get a certain benefit such as a good crop, or victory over your enemies. In Christianity there are no more sacrifices to offer, as Jesus has made the only sacrifice necessary on the cross. All that is left to do is love God, and allow that love of God to flow through into love of neighbour.