What is God’s purpose for humanity — for you? To be in relationship with him — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and to be in relationship with others. Relationships defined by perfect love.

What does a relationship like this look like? The garden of Eden offers a glimpse. The garden is where Adam and Eve walked and talked to God in fellowship with him, creation and each other — perfect fellowship. It was in the garden when man and woman disobeyed that the perfect relationship, perfect fellowship, was broken. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection’s defeat over death provided the way for our brokenness to be reconciled and the relationship with God and our neighbor to be restored.

When Jesus was asked by a Jewish teacher of the law which is the most important commandment, he replied:

“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT).

What does this love for God look like? To love him perfectly or fully with our whole selves: our heart, mind, soul and strength. It is a love that transforms our heart’s affections and desires as we seek him first above everything else in our life (Matthew 6:33). To “be perfect” is to love like God loves. It is an un-self-interested, self-giving, unconditional love bestowed upon those who return that love and those who do not (Matthew 5:48).

This love is our identity and who we are! It is a love of an unreserved devotion, holding nothing back. God is primary in my life.

Do you love him more than your dreams and successes, passions and desires? Is your love for him greater than your comfort and convenience? Do you love him more than these _________ (fill in the blank)? Is your love for God your driving force and defining posture? Do you possess a love for God that impacts your character and informs your affections so you can say with complete confidence: He is my all in all!

And what is this love for your neighbor — those who cross your path through this journey of life, whether friend or foe, family or stranger? It is to love them as much as you love yourself. When you love God, you will see yourself as he does, a dearly beloved child made in his image. And this love gives you the desire and the ability to love others and see them too as dearly beloved children of God.

This radical love for God and others should define us, consume and order our lives, and inform not just our personal but our corporate lives — how we live in our homes, churches, workplaces or schools, local communities and this global community we all share.

In our families, how does an all-consuming love for God (experienced and pursued) and a self-sacrificing love for the other impact our homes? Is love the common language spoken there? In our churches, do our practices and forms of worship demonstrate perfect love for God and our brother and sister in Christ? In our work environment, does our unrelenting love for God and neighbor inform our work ethic and attitude towards work, supervisors and those we lead? In our neighborhoods, towns and cities, does our love for God result in a heart of compassion lived out in acts of mercy and the pursuit of justice in his name? Is love for God permeating all of who we are and all of what we do?

God so loved that he gave his only son so that we would have life, abundant and full (John 3:16-17). And this abundant and full life is found in giving ourselves back to him through complete devotion, full surrender, total obedience or as Paul describes it in Ephesians, walking in the way of love, “as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:2). Living a life of love as a response to the gift of love.

We are each invited to be in relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A relationship defined by love, initiated by God’s unending love for us and responded to by grace through faith. God infills us with an all-consuming love in our heart, mind, soul and strength that drives us to love our neighbors. For in this we will have abundant life, life to the full (John 10:10)!

Colleen Derr is an ordained minister and served as president of Wesley Seminary from 2017-2023. She has spent the past 47 years passionately pursuing living in the light of his perfect love.


Questions for reflection and conversation

  • According to Matthew 22:37-40 our purpose in life is to love God completely and love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to “live a radical life of obedience and love”. When you look at your own life do you see it portraying radical obedience and love? In what areas could you improve your implementation of this radical way of life?
  • What would an all-consuming love for God and people look like in your personal life, professional life, and family life?
  • God has blessed us with abundant life. As an outpouring of love for what God has done for us through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, we can experience a life of filled with forgiveness, grace, mercy, and freedom through obedience to Christ. Are there any areas of your life that you need to surrender to God?
  • In our current culture it can be difficult to live out the radical love of God with other’s who do not share our same beliefs and perspectives. Prayerfully consider how you can be the light of love in difficult situations You can help the world see him through your radical love of God and others. What is your plan of action in challenging interactions?


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.