This last month I was one of the millions of people who sat and watched as Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle. I love weddings in general, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint with all the pomp and ceremony and glamour, not to mention the incredible promises of covenant to one another.
I’ve been intrigued by the social media frenzy stirred up by Bishop Michael Curry’s passionate preaching. Voices of admiration rang out almost as loudly as some in the christian camp booing him for not giving a full enough rendition of sin and its penalty. Whilst I can understand where some are coming from, I’ve got to say I thought his message was timely, beautiful and profound. As I understand from scripture, God is love – and so I’m not convinced that we can ever overemphasise the incredible world-transforming nature of it.
Listening to him preach and reading over some of what’s been commented has led me to scripture again to look at love. I’ve been musing over Paul’s words in Ephesians 3 and am more convinced than ever that God’s heart for the world and for His people is to be totally and utterly overwhelmed and immersed in His love.
Here’s Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 –
“14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (NKJV)
A few thoughts on these verses –
- Let love be your foundation
Our roots are in love – that’s where everything starts in our journey with Jesus. Sometimes I think we’ve tried to rewrite the Gospel so that God’s motivation toward us becomes more sin and judgement focussed, but the best known verse in the world remains true in direct opposition to this sort of thinking – it was because God so LOVED the world that He gave His son. Let’s not muddy the waters by trying to get theologically clever. Let’s be clear – the gospel story is rooted in one emotion and Paul’s prayer springboards from that place of rooting and grounding: Love. It’s not a flimsy fickle sort of love. It’s not a here today, gone tomorrow kind of love. It’s a world-transforming, cross-bearing, death defying sort of love. And it’s on offer to you and me.
- Let love be your comprehension
Starting in love, Paul prays that we would be able to comprehend it. That our minds will be stretched to understanding the incredible proportions of it. That our thinking would be inundated with this emotion from the heart of the Father. The gospel has you rooted in love, now let’s journey in understanding it, in filling our minds with the truth of it, in trying to grasp the extent of love that our Papa has for us. It’s a study that is so vast that it blows our minds (and boxes of thinking) wide open.
- Let love be your experience
Paul’s words are provoking because though he prays that we comprehend the love of God in verse 18, he’s clear in verse 19 that it goes beyond comprehension. No matter how much we study and learn of the love of God it will never be enough because it is so much greater than our minds can fathom. Comprehending His love is a worthy and important pursuit, but it’s an insufficient one. God wants to journey us so that the love that we start in and work to understand is a love that we enter into an experience of. He wants to take us from being merely students to the wonderful privilege of being sons – the first focusses on learning, the second on relational experience.
Where are you in your journey with Jesus? You may be someone who is trying to grapple with the idea of whether God really cares about you, or you may be just starting out on getting to know Jesus and are getting your feet planted firmly into His awesome love. Wherever you are, let me encourage you today – His love is so beautiful to read about and think about, but was never intended to be just a theological concept. He is inviting us to experience Him and His heart, to meet His affection which is beyond any box we’ll ever be able to hold in our minds, so vast that it is breath-taking in wonder and depth. Let’s step in a little deeper today and invite Him to come and do what He has always intended – to show off with His love so that we come face to face with His affection and are undone in His presence once again.