Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 11, 2005

Breadth, Length, Height, Depth (2)

We have come to the width and length and height and depth of the love of Christ. It is beyond knowledge. Only by the power of the Spirit can we grasp it. Furthermore, we need to grasp it. To grasp this, to get ahold of it, to grab on to this knowledge that is beyond knowledge and to not let go, that's my mission. To know the love of Christ that surpasses understanding.

Where do we begin? As I said yesterday, we are on the threshold of the marvelous here. Retaining Paul's metaphor of extent, we might put it this way: if you were to start walking today, in any direction you should choose, and if you could walk for a thousand years, you would still not reach the other side of the love of Christ.

Ha, but this is a child's language, I know. We can do better. We have arrived, in coming to this verse, at the crux of the whole passage. The crux, yes. The Cross. We have arrived at the foot of that blood-stained instrument. We cannot, we dare not, speak of the love of Christ, of grasping it, of comprehending it even in the least, without looking to the cross of Calvary.

There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Luke 7:41,42
She was a prostitute, a woman to be despised by the respectable, the God-fearing, the righteous. But she knelt at the feet of Christ and bathed them with her tears of gratitutde. You see, she grasped it! She had taken hold of it for dear life. She knew how much she was forgiven, and so she knew, she began to know. To get it. And that was why she loved him so much! And then she heard him say, "Go in peace."

Let me say again: my mission is to grasp the love of Christ the way she did. I remember the time I fell to my knees and cried out in gratitude to Him, yes, just like that woman. There for a moment, I too got it! But Paul is saying, press on toward more of that knowledge, toward more of the intimate experience of the love of Christ. Seek, know, grasp, understand, His surpassing love. Lord, I want my life to be an intrepid voyage of discovery of the sheer gracefulness of Your love.

The sheer gracefulness. The sheer grace-filled-ness of it. Paul says:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4,5
This is what we draw near to when we draw near to God in faith. We draw near to the fountain of his love, a love we have never deserved, but that nevertheless pours forth from the very heart of the Father. And by this means, by grace, in the knowledge of it, in the grasping of it, we are at last able to stand. Yes, and to hear the words of Jesus, "Go in peace."

And that is the purpose to this knowledge. Paul's prayer is not that we have knowledge for its own sake. By no means! It is so that we may "go in peace." That is, go and live and work and walk out our faith, standing in grace--by means of grace--in the very power of this deep knowledge of the undeserved but nevertheless all-sufficient and enabling love of Christ. Only then can we be grace-filled vessels of Christ's love for a broken and embittered world.

But wait. I'm getting ahead of myself. That's for the next post (or two) I suppose. The purpose of it all. The "why" question. Why do we need to know how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ? Why is it important? What are the consequences of knowing, of truly grasping, the sheer extent of the love that Christ has for us?

2 Comments:

Blogger Eáránë Felagund said...

Our youth group just had a bible study on this yesterday! :)

Paul used the terms breadth, length, height, and depth to help the Ephesians identify with what he was talking about. The Ephesians were builders of some sort and hence the reference to building in Chapter 2 and later on measurement terms in Chapter 3.

Personally I think that yes, the word "comprehend" just means to have a solid foundation (again a building term) to know for a surety that the love of Christ is limitless.

Breadth: the love of Christ embraces all of Mankind whether you are Chinese or Japanese or American, whether you are a baby, a teenager or an adult, whether you are rich or poor.

Length: It is from everlasting to everlasting.

Depth: The lengths to which He would go to demonstrate His love for all creatures (leaving heaven's glory and dying on the cross in our place).

Height: It is unmatchable, unreachable by any other creature. No other creature can love as much as Christ can.

Further, this love passes all knowledge (v19a) - it has never been known other than as Christ's love.

When we have been rooted and grounded and anchored firmly in it, we'll be filled to overflowing with the "all the fulness of God" (v19b) - we won't be able to help but show Christ's love to others because we're just so full of it.

This is the aim that every Christian should have, and should pray that fellow believers will attain as well :)

There is a really beautiful song by our Youth Choir. I have it for download on my website here.

Once again, thank you, that was really great blogging! :)

2:48 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Wow, Tatatee, this is just wonderful. Thanks so much for your contribution. What you have added here is very valuable. You rock!

8:33 AM  

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