Section Two: The Personal Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Extremely Valued.
Our reading for today: Ephesians 3: 11-20 (MsgB)
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in Him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud! My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.
I have a small on-line Ebay business, and one of the nice things about selling stuff on the web is that when I need to mail out a package, I don’t have to go to the post office to wait in those long lines in order to ship my orders. Instead, I pull up a nifty on-line program designed to print my own shipping labels in the comfort of my own office. One of the first things this program always wants to know in order to charge me the right amount of postage is both the weight of the package I’m mailing, and the dimensions. You see, there are limits to the weight and dimensions of the packages the USPS will accept. Of course, from time to time, one of my packages will be larger than the standard accepted limits, so off to the post office I go. Bad news, right?
But here’s the good news…
With God and His agape love, the weight and dimensions of His packages are absolutely limitless!
If you recall, last time, we looked at how Paul attempts to describe the weightiness of God’s agape love (Romans 8). Today, in his letter to the Ephesians, we find him once again doing his very best to describe for us the outlandish dimensions of that same love.
I, for one, think he’s done a very good job. And from everything we find in Christendom over the last two thousand years, these words have had a great impact on readers ever since they were first written to Paul’s friends in Ephesus. Yet, as I ponder on Paul’s powerful paragraph today, I can just imagine him growing a bit frustrated with himself as he tries to find the biggest and bestest words to accurately describe this nearly indescribable agape love of God. It seems that after writing a few sentences, Paul must have become convinced that he simply can’t do adequate service to this assignment, so he throws his hands up in the air and exclaims…
Oy vey! The extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love… you just gotta reach out and experience it for yourself!
So in verse 18, he simply encourages his friends to…
Test its length!
Plumb the depths!
Rise to the heights!
This kind of out-of-the-box extra-dimensional thinking that I see in Paul’s writing here reminds me a lot of the ways King David speaks of God in one of his popular songs that he composed back in the day (Psalm 139, verses 7-12)…
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You.
And so, here we are. Just like King David and the apostle Paul. We’re living in a world that certainly will always have dimensional limits. The USPS and UPS will always tell me, for example, that there will be limits to the linear dimensions of the packages I want to mail. Corporate America will always give us reasons why there will be conditional limitations to the products they sell to us. And so it goes.
Yet, in this world of dimensional limits, where special offers expire, time always runs out, and you and I are recipients of speeding tickets for driving our cars over 75 mph, we have a God who says…
Go ahead, my precious son or daughter…test the limits of my agape love. See if you can find where it begins or where it ends. See if you can climb up to its’ heights, or maybe you can dig a hole deep enough to get underneath it.
In truth, God’s agape love, as expressed through His Son, is without dimensions, forever and ever. Amen.
My prayer: Father God, thank You for Paul’s encouragement when he reminds me that You can do anything—far more than I could ever imagine or guess or request in my wildest dreams! I receive this good news and desire to explore the unlimited dimensions of Your agape love. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Am I fully convinced that there are no limits to the dimensions of God’s agape love? In what aspects of my life am I still living under a legalistic world-view that would try to convince me that there are strict limits to His love and compassion for me? What might it look like for me to be set free from those dimensional limitations?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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