The Consequences of Under-estimating the Love of Christ
I'm still not done with Paul's Ephesian prayer. Recall that he prayed that the Ephesians would get a firm grasp of the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ. Well, I've been wondering why. What would happen, what would be the consequences, if they didn't "grasp" it?
Paul himself says that by grasping it (even though it surpasses human understanding) they might become "filled to the measure with all the fullness of God." That's the consequence of grasping the extent of the love of Christ. But without such a grasp, then that fullness is, presumably, stymied.
Hmmm. I want to circle around this thought for a little while. I'm sorry, it's just doing me good to stay here and keep looking. This is my way, I suppose, of grasping that knowledge of the love of Christ. Ruminate on it. Then ruminate some more.
So Paul is specifcally talking about extent here. The sheer reach, the wingspan, of the love of Christ. I know that it is wide enough to leave no one out. Christ demonstrated his love for us at the Cross, where he died for all! No one is left out. The offer is made to every sinner, which is to say, every man, woman, and child that has ever lived. Come to the fountain. The water of life is free. Drink and be filled.
That's how wide the love of Christ is, but my ruminating question is, what if I didn't understand that? What if I underestimated the reach of Christ's love? What would be the consequences of that under-estimation?
I think it would leave me prey to uncertainly, doubt, self-condemnation for sin, and as a final consequence it would have the effect of "disabling" my spiritual walk. I mean, if I do underestimate the full extent, the extravagant generosity of the love of Christ, if I imagine it has limits, then I will eventually wonder if I have not stumbled across that imagined border-line, crossing over into the land of no-love, no grace, no forgiveness. I will then have to struggle to get back in His love, and the only way left to me will be the flesh. Having been saved by grace, I will struggle to bring about my sanctification in the strength of the flesh, simply because I had chosen to believe that grace was not enough. This is how the grace of God is made a thing of no repute, an under-cherished gift. We simply fail to recognize it's extent. And that failure has grave consequences.
Remember--I say again--Paul wants the Ephesians to grasp hold of the sheer extravagant wideness of the love of Christ so that they can be filled fith all the fullness of God. Do you want that fullness? Do you want to win the very next battle with your own carnality? Well, get hold of this simple fact: even when you stumble, even when you sin, the love of Christ for you is not one whit diminished. In the eyes of God, because of the what Christ has done for you, you are at this very moment as holy now as you will ever be in heaven. Even in the moment of you sin, His regard for you is not diminished. This is not to say He is not grieved, but His love is not diminished and his removal of judgement, accomplished once and for all at Calvary, is not undermined by your sin.
Christian, get this. Or as people used to say in old movies, "get this and get it good!" The love that the Father has for you does not rise and fall like the stock market, is not tied to the moral profit-margin of your day to day performance. The love that the Father has for you is wider than you can imagine, longer than you can imagine, higher than you can imagine, deeper than you can imagine. His love for you is ever victorious, ever powerful, ever yearning, never-diminished, never waylaid or deterred, never undermined or overwhelmed by something you may have done. It's big, Christian. Really big. His grace to you is a permanent and all-encompassing gift to those who believe. This grace is no permission-slip to sin, but it is power to overcome termptation from day to day. Your victory is by His grace. Get it?