We feel a general kind of love for something or someone that meets our needs. There is a sense of affection for someone who gives us water when we are thirsty, or a tree that shelters us from rain. But our love doesn’t extend beyond those met needs.
God’s love for us goes beyond mere survival; it isn’t just the means to happiness or enlightenment or non-death. In order to understand and respond to it, we have to know what it is, and how we can begin to love God and other in return.
CS Lewis wrote, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” Friendship and grace and redemption is not a requirement for existence. But when it comes to love, we are never operating on the bare minimum.