3/20/2015

The Dimensions of Love (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Ephesians 3:16-19, 18b "...grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:17b-19, NIV).

Christ's love has many dimensions: width, length, height and depth. No matter how much and how far one knows the love of God, he or she will never get to the end of it. For Christ's love is:
  • wide enough to encompass all mankind.
  • long enough to last for eternity.
  • deep enough to reach the most broken person.
  • high enough to exalt him or her to heaven.
Christ's love is also seen in the dimensions in the cross of Christ.
  • The upright pole reached down into the earth, and pointed upwards to heaven.
  • The cross bar carried the arms of Jesus stretched out as if to embrace the whole world.
Dr. W. A. Criswell (pastor, 1909-2002) liked to talk about "God's love in four dimensions" from John 3:16:

  • "For God so loved the world" – Breadth "He included you"
  • "That he gave … his Son" – Length "He sent Jesus to die for you"
  • "Should not perish" – Depth "He reached down for you"
  • "Have everlasting life" – Height "He lifts you up to heaven"

Christ's love is broader than the universe, longer than time, higher than hope, deeper than death. As we are strengthened by the Spirit on the inside, we will come to a new comprehension of his love for us.

When a man and woman meet and date and fall in love, their love is real and true, but it is not complete. On their wedding night, they will experience love in a deeper way, but there is much more to come. As the years go by, romantic love gives way to a love that springs from a deep personal commitment made stronger and more profound by the changing seasons of life. And so a husband may truly say on his 10th, 20th, 30th anniversary, "Dearest, I love you more today than the day we got married." That is more than poetry or sentiment. In a good marriage, that is reality. (On a purely personal note, today happens to be my wife's birthday. We have been married almost 28 1/2 years. That's a long time to be married. It's long enough that we've been married longer than we were single. I can say without hesitation that it is better today than ever. Our marriage is stronger and happier and more satisfying than ten or 15 or 20 years ago. How that happened I could not say, but it is true, and on Marlene's birthday, I am happy to say that I love her still. And I pray the Lord gives us at least another 28 1/2 years together.)
References:
  1. Beyond Your Dreams (Eph 3:14-21).
  2. John Stott. Four key words in Paul's prayer:
  1. Strength. God "may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (Eph 3:16).
  2. Love. You may be "rooted and established in love" (Eph 3:17).
  3. Knowledge. You may "know this love that surpasses knowledge" (Eph 3:19a), the knowledge of "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Eph 3:18).
  4. Fullness. "...you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19b).
Consider these dimensions of love:
  1. Love accepts, not expects. Ruth Graham, "My job is to love Billy. It is God's job to make him good." Trying to change others is like teaching a pig to sing.
  2. Love is a verb [first before it is a noun] (Jn 3:16). How God helped us to love each other after I lost a million. I began to change when I knew that my wife's love for me was not because of me.
  3. Love begets love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). We always get what we give. When we love, though we do not feel like loving others, God grows his love in our hearts. God is love because God kept loving us despite that fact that we repeatedly choose something else besides God.
  4. Love is forever (Jer 31:3). Lee Kwan Yew continued to love and care for his wife after she had a stroke and became an invalid. Benjamin Warfield (1851-1921) loved his invalid wife for 39 years.
My prayer for the newly wedded couple is to grow in all the dimensions of love all the days of their life.