Mr. Standfast

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

July 20, 2005

Fullness

The estimable Broken Messenger (aka Brad) "interacted" with yesterday's post on his own blog by posing a very good question:

For though the text clearly implies that the "so that" is in place that we "may be able to comprehend" the height, width and depth of Christ's love, is such a thing truly and fully knowable? This seems paradoxical to me on both fronts: one being that the text says that we can know the bounds of this love, but yet still implying of the infinite quality of Christ's love.
Well, as Richard Nixon used to say, "Let me just say this about that...."

First, yes, I would say that, we will never have a precise understanding of the full extent of the love of God. Even the meager understanding that we now have through the indwelling Spirit is not what it someday will be in eternity. The issue is "fullness." There is a degree of understanding that will be ours in eternity. Since we will still be finite beings then, we will not have perfect and thorough understanding, but in eternity our "grasp" of the love of God will be such that our awe and wonder will never cease.

I can remember the first time I ever saw the ocean. I was just a boy, and the sight of the Atlantic filled me with wonder, so that I could not stop looking at it, listening to it, filling my senses with it. Now, all these years later, I live much closer to the ocean than when I was a boy. In fact, it's just a short walk from my house. And yet I hardly ever look at it anymore. It's just the ocean. No big deal.

That's not like the love of God. Our grasp of that love will one day be such that, well, the awe will last forever. That's one aspect of Paul's wonderful word, "fullness." Fullness is the full portion of the abundance of God's gifts that we have been predestined for. Fullness, in that sense, is not something attainable in this life, for we are not now what we shall one day be. But, here's the cool thing. The Spirit will provide a foretaste of that fullness even now.

Foretaste is not in itself fullness. But it is a foretaste of fullness. Paul says this in 3:21 and again in 4:13. We get a foretaste, a sample, of eternal things. We need this, because although we may never thoroughly grasp the full extent of the incredible love of Christ, we need at least to enjoy that sense of awe that allows us to say in wonder, "It's much bigger than I'd ever thought possible."

We won't get it by reading about it in books or going to seminary. We can only receive this through the Spirit doing supernaturally in our inner being what is naturally quite impossible. That is, rooting and grounding us in the love of Christ. My notion is that we're all kind of struggling with this second "so that." Our grasp is not so firm as it might be, and can be, and so we tragically underestimate the love of Christ. The consequences of this underestimation include judgmentalism, unforgiveness, malice, strife, envy, etc.

I think that Adam and Eve underestimated the love of God. First when they disobeyed him, and then again when they hid from him and lied to him afterward, trying to cover their guilt. They assumed they had gone beyond the bounds of his love. They assumed that God's love ended at the borders of their obedience. It was not so. They were wrong. But it would take them, and their descendants, a long time even to figure that much out. Underestimating the love of God, its extent and its power, is the source of all human tragedy.

2 Comments:

Blogger Broken Messenger said...

Bob,

A great answer that leads to more reaction and questions. I'll just stew on them for now, but thanks for taking some time to respond. Regardless, all praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ for His great love!

Brad

1:45 AM  
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