The creation of the world and the human beings by God is His first act of love: thus establishing a vital and indissoluble link between God and men, which He invites us to love Him and love one another. In the Bible, love is not just a sentiment or an emotion, but rather a benevolent attitude and a concrete engagement.
In the Old Testament, the love of God is expressed in a privileged way in His relation to the people whom He has chosen and with whom he has made an alliance. They are invited to love God in return, to respect Him and adore Him alone, and to put His commandments into practice. The whole biblical history shows how difficult it is to live this love. On many occasions, we understand that the love of God extends to all mankind, for example, in the promise which He made to Abraham: In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Gen 12:3)
In the New Testament, Jesus and Paul explain the essence of God’s commandments in two sentences taken from the Old Testament: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. Jesus gave also a “new commandment” to his disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35). He thus makes love the foundation of the Christian community, and his testimony for excellence.
What God wants for human beings, then, is love – a love that engages, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18). For Jesus, this love extends itself, beyond the neighbour and the foreigner, to the enemy (Matthew 5:43-48). Such love is possible only insofar as each one knows himself forgiven and loved by God.
For his life, death and resurrection, Jesus reveals the universal love of the Father in a concrete and exemplary manner. This love is the unconditional welcome for everyone and the gift of his life for all. It transforms the focus on oneself, on others and on the world. We now have the assurance that “nothing will be able to separate us from the love that God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Translated from French by me. Original in French at http://lire.la-bible.net/reflexion/l-amour-un-theme-central-qui-traverse-toute-la-bible