Now let me try to unpack it and defend it. Why do I define loving God mainly as treasuring God? Why do I believe that love for God is most essentially an experience of the affections, not mere thought or mere behavior?
When Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), he emphatically did not say that keeping his commandments is what love is. He distinguished the two and made commandment keeping the evidence of loving him, not the definition of loving him.
And when Jesus says the second commandment (keeping God’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves), he emphatically did not say that the second commandment was interchangeable with the first one. It is like it. It is not it. Loving God is not defined by loving neighbor. It is demonstrated by loving neighbor. “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). But they are not identical.
John Piper, “Conclusion: Thinking for the Sake of Joy: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God,” in Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind, ed. David Mathis (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), 130.
I have just completed a series of lessons on the theme of Loving God. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year.