Monday, May 26, 2014

Grasping it

How big is the love of God? How deep is it and what are its limits?

It's easy to throw around terms like "infinite," "limitless," and "incomprehensible." But sometimes they are just words. They are what we are supposed to say abut God. But really, how big is his love for us? Is there a way that we can begin to grasp it?

My life experiences are limited. I have seen him work in my life, and I have seen a taste of how much he loves me. Everything I've experienced indicates that it's bigger than I can know. But how can I know more?

With the help of a book I read recently (How People Change), I saw something in Paul's letter to the Ephesians that helped me see a better way to grasp his love. Here is the relevant passage, with the key phrase highlighted:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpassed knowledge - that you may be filled with measure to the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3:14-15, 17-19 (NIV, italics mine) 

Yes, that's it! Paul is telling the Ephesians that the best chance we have of understanding God's love for us is together. Life is not meant to be lived solo, and following Jesus is not meant to be a solo project. we need each other. So how does this work?

Well, as the book I referenced above points out (I'm not smart enough to think of this on my own), it's kind of like how a jury relies on twelve different minds to reach a verdict based on a full understanding of truth. When we are doing life together with other followers of Jesus, we get the benefit of each other's perspective on Christ's love.

One person has been brought through incredible suffocating grief from suddenly losing family to the great enemy, death. Another has been freed from a powerful addiction. Still another has seen God's grace repair a seemingly broken marriage. This one has lost everything financially and had to depend on God for their needs, and that one has been freed from an attitude of pride over the things of the world. On and on it goes.

When we gather with other believers and share our stories, when we are open with each other, we see so much more of the picture. We see how the love of Jesus is indeed sufficient for every circumstance, seeing so much more that we could know on our own. In How People Change, Lane and Tripp put it like this:
Not only are we strengthened in our individual growth in grace, but the entire body is built up by a fuller sense of the power and hope of God's grace! The Christian life is not less than individual, but it is so much more.
And so I am thankful to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Every time they share what is going on in their journey and allow me to pray with them, even time they allow my to help bear their burdens, every time they listen, pray, and cry with me - they show me a little more of Christ's love. His love is too big to be grasped, even together. But knowing him - really knowing him - is a group venture.

And so, as Paul concludes in Ephesians 3:21…
To him be glory in the the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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