God is love. But what does scripture say about love ?
It is easy for us to see love as an attribute rather than who God is. For us love is something that we do,not something that we are. When my friend bought me a bunch of flowers for my birthday and we had breakfast together, she was loving me. Love was something that she was doing but it is not who she is. That’s the difference here. God says He is love not He does love.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 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. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Love is one of those intangible things, its like the Lochness monster, people talk about it but it is difficult to find someone who can say anything concrete about it. It can be a bit of an “out-there” concept, but the amazing thing about love is that it seems to have the ability to take a sane person and turn them into someone pretty different. All of a sudden they’re doing things that they would never do. Love can change and transform someone.
If you walk around a shopping centre, you will generally see 3 groups of guys hanging around; those that have to, those that want to and those that wish they could. There are those that are forced to be there and are desperate to try and find the right gift, but its difficult. Those that want to and they’re selling their kidneys because they want to dazzle her with this gift.
Those that wish they could (they have that fretful look in their eyes because they don’t know what she wants) .
If you look at love and listed its symptoms, you might be forgiven for thinking it was a dreaded disease you need insurance for ; it causes heart palpitations, sleeplessness, irritations and a propensity toward violence. Love is so wired on the inside of us. The reality for us as human beings is that we would do anything for love, it is the echo of the human heart. Oscar Wilde wrote “ keep love in your heart, a life without love is like a sunless garden where the flowers are dead.“
With all of this being true and with the stakes being so high, is it any wonder why Paul’s heart attitude in this text is so intense? He is pleading with God about this thing because he understands that a human heart without this thing is lost and dead. The context of this entire chapter is the mystery that God has revealed to Paul.The mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body,partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. We all get to be involved and attend,but it is not good enough that we just attend and are together, Paul says we should also love one another.
It is very easy to pitch up, show up, do the church thing and play the game. In church, in relationships, it’s very easy to play the game. but when we take it a step further and there is a genuine bond of love between us, then we are talking some hard core stuff. The bridge of love is also the bridge where nuclear bombs come over from the other side. We have exposed ourselves and opened our hearts up, the avenue of love is also the avenue of hurt. The avenue of vulnerability is also the avenue of offense. Paul is saying, God’s intention isn’t that you all sit there, smile, and say that you’re full of the joys of spring, but inside something is dying. Paul is emphasizing that God is saying He wants us to be able to be open and vulnerable with one another and share with one another in love. In here lies the problem. In Ephesians 3:19 he seems to be saying that many of us are looking for this relationship with Jesus, to know God and be filled with all the fullness of God ,but he is emphasizing that unless we know the love of God we aren’t going to understand who God is.
The walls that we build to protect ourselves become the very walls that isolate us and make us so lonely. The fullness of God includes being knitted into and living in unity with Him and His body. It’s not easy. Let’s look at Ephesians 1:5,
5,He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,
That is a very tricky text because it doesn’t seem like there was any consultation on my part in that text. HE predestined us for adoptions to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with HIS pleasure and HIS will. There was no negotiation process, there was no discussion or meeting. Paul is saying to understand that and to be able to live in that, we need love. That’s the bridge between who I am and what God’s will is.
In all things He not only states His unwavering expectation for us, but God also supernaturally provides the means for us to be able to accomplish what He’s got for us. Paul prays that we be strengthened with power through His spirit and our inner being; so that we have this relationship with Jesus Christ but also be empowered with the holy spirit. If you get these two things right then the rest will flow through that. If you are strengthened by the holy spirit and Christ dwells in your heart through faith, then it brings about an understanding of the extent of the love of God. It gives rise to being filled with all the fullness of God. We as people chase after love. We don’t just want to go through a program, we aren’t after Jesus Himself, we want to do what He is doing, we want to be involved in His work, because when I chase Him all other things follow.The love of God is after the fact, once I come into relationship with Jesus.
Our mentality is often “God gimmi gimmi gimmi,even though I don’t know you”. So if He does give you without you knowing Him, He creates a false image to us. He is first committed to His own glory and who He is and then to us.
There are two things I reflected upon:
- Have we forgotten the saving work of Calvary? Jesus lives in our hearts through faith. Jesus hasn’t come to just sit in our hearts and be a dictator. He lives in our hearts through the relationship we begin to have with Him. It doesn’t matter who we are or what journey we have walked. “In Jesus Christ” is the only way to the Father. But we forget walking it out each day. We forget walking with Jesus, Jesus watching me and wanting to work and act in my heart according to His plans and purposes. He is there. We can’t just pop Him on a shelf once our quiet time is over. Unless we understand that He is king of our lives, we will not understand the fullness of God nor the love of God.
- We need to be strengthened with power through His spirit and inner being. If we don’t have a conviction about what He is and who He says He is, we begin to believe what others say about Him and we begin giving our lives to a whole bunch of rubbish, which is not God. Trying to impress others, running around playing this game of church when it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ at all. We need to understand who He is and what He says about Himself.
When you get saved, the gift of the holy spirit is for you. There is power, that God is able to take us and transform us.” I am weak in this area”, yes you are now but Jesus Christ is at work in that area. “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life”, don’t worry Jesus Christ is at work in you. The truth is that He has given us His holy spirit to strengthen us and give us all that we need. Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into us through the holy spirit.
He is the one who gives us His identity, suddenly I am not defined by what others say, I am defined by what He says and who He is. It’s not just His voice, in a one off “Mel you’re a nice person” and then I live for the rest of my life with an echo in my ear. He is with me in each day, giving me an identity and making me concrete on the inside. When the fullness of God comes to rest, then I am able to love, and give time to others with no expectation. It comes from understanding our relationship with Jesus and being empowered by his holy spirit.
All of a sudden we are able to go to a world that is crying I would do anything for love and say ,here I have buckets of the stuff. and they find life to the full because they find Jesus.