Saturday, November 6, 2010

God's Love: Part XI, "Experience the Height"

“And I pray that you, having been rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 17b-19)

For two months we have studied and taken a fresh look at the love of God, the invitation of a Sacred Romance. To recap the main points:  we’ve come to understand that God existed before us in a marvelous and mysterious fellowship of love as God the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. That He created this world with its stunning beauty, and us in His perfect image. Then set us right down in the middle of it to enjoy and to rule over and to share in His wild love.

In essence, we were made in love, by love, and for love.

We learned of our enemy, Satan, who existed before us, and was cast down from heaven when he became prideful and rebelled against His creator. His hatred for us grew because we bear God’s image, and he sought and still seeks revenge against God through us. Hit Him where it hurts. Create doubt in the hearts of the people so they will turn on God.

When we took the bait and betrayed our Maker, God did the unthinkable…He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our disobedience. Ransom. Because He conquered death and rose again, we are forgiven of our sins and have the option to choose life over death by accepting His offer. Jesus then rose to heaven to prepare a place for us. For those who choose to believe and follow Jesus, Love promises us a day when all our pain and sorrow will end, death’s sting will be forever destroyed, all sin will be erased, and fellowship with God will be forever unbroken.

Furthermore, we have discovered that God has made a way for those of us who are in Christ Jesus to understand His love by experiencing it. That we are not outside the scope of God’s love no matter what we’ve done; and whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes, God’s love will find us. That it even reaches to the deepest hell and darkest regions of our heart…

To do what? To rescue us. But is that all? It is vital to know that rescue is not all He's up to. The reason Jesus longs to experience love with us is because He knows it will require His love to bring the healing our hearts are desperate for. Experiencing His love and healing, in return, restores His glorious image upon our hearts, and frees us to live full lives.

If this is what God’s love does, then why are so many of us still walking around as if in captivity?

Which one of us has not marveled at some time in our life, at the billions of stars winking to us each night? Or pondered the magnificence of the sun and moon? How free they appear in all their glory. Oh that we could ride the waves of the Milky Way, and explore the mystery of the planets...and of our own souls. To rise with them to such heights where we are no longer captive to the troubles of this life.

Close your eyes and envision the person you long to be, all that you dream you could be…no longer at war within yourself, confident, sure, free of all shame and the labels of your past, both other- and self-inflicted.

It is possible dear friends. By it’s height, God’s love entitles us and raises us up to a most excellent happiness and glory through Jesus. Here is where it all comes together.

“He [Jesus] climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty. He handed it all out in gifts to the people. Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to the highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts.” (Ephesians 4:8-10, The Message)

Through His death, bearing all our sin, Jesus went to the very depths of the earth. In doing so, He seized our enemies (According to Matthew Henry, Commentary, all that “had conquered us—such as sin, the devil, and death”). All that held us captive, He took captive unto Himself. He then rose to the highest height, carrying the booty with him—everything the enemy had stolen from us and all the things we’ve given up. And the best part is…He gives it all back to us!

Look at what He says in Isaiah, 45:2-3, "I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."

In doing so, we are freed to experience the height of His love.

A little word study might help us out here. Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus define “height” as the topmost point, the highest limit/extreme, the very distance from the bottom to the top. The word “high” in the same book is defined as superior, and greater in size, amount, degree, etc. than usual. The same word used in our key verse, Ephesians 3:18, stems from a root word in the Greek language meaning “for the sake of,” and “over, beyond, more than.”

In simple terms:  On our behalf, God’s love—which is superior to all—reaches to the uttermost depths to rescue us; lifting us to the highest height, over and beyond all that we could possibly hope, imagine, or dream. Joy and peace return to us. Life returns, to the fullest! Enjoyment and laughter. Hope. Courage. On and on the list goes.

Such love surpasses mere knowledge, as the beginning scripture states. It can only be understood by experience! The reason God’s role as Lover is so important and key to our story is because it is His love that woos us and draws us into a relationship with Him. All that He has done for us through His Son, He did so out of love to free us from captivity and win us back to Himself.

It is more than a “get out of hell free” card. God’s love invites us into an epic adventure, with the freedom to explore all His mysteries, which are even greater than the mysteries of the stars and space. We can trade our sin and shame, and all the labels of our past for a freedom and a love that catapults us to new heights. This is how high God’s love is…and even then, it exceeds our prayers, desires, hopes, and dreams.

No comments: