so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV)
As we continue to read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians we come to a passage today in which Paul prays for something interesting. The Ephesians, who were believers, already knew something about God’s love for them. A person doesn’t usually become a believer without some understanding of God’s love.
New believers are familiar with some famous verses in the Bible that speak of God’s love such as John 3:16 and Romans 5:8. But our understanding can’t stop there. We need to comprehend the vastness of God’s love. Love has dimension. To that end God’s love has:
- breadth: God’s love is available to all people everywhere
- length: God’s love began in eternity past and continues into eternity future
- height: God’s love can take us to heaven
- depth: God’s love can overcome the darkest, most heinous of our sins
God’s love extends in four directions. Not coincidentally, so does the cross.
Once a person is saved and is part of God’s family their eternity is secure – they are going to heaven. But that is not the end. That is just the beginning. At that point such a person is like a baby – he needs spiritual nourishment so he can grow to be a mature Christian adult. To that end, he needs to keep learning. One of the things he needs to learn is the extent of God’s love.
Its interesting that we can “comprehend” and can “know the love of Christ”. God never appeals to our emotions. He appeals to our intellect. Those who claim – like I used to – that Christianity is just an emotional experience or blind faith are wrong. God goes out of His way in the Bible to direct us to knowledge of Him.
Knowledge provides security. When life challenges us we can fall back on what we know to be true. Then we don’t have be tossed around by worry and insecurity. When we comprehend the love that God has for us we can be emotionally stable as the world around us falls apart.
But paradoxically, “the love of Christ… surpasses knowledge”. Lest we get too boastful about our own ability to understand God, Paul reminds us that ultimately God is not completely knowable.
Certainly our knowledge of God’s love can, and should, grow. God is all about teaching us and changing us to be more like Jesus. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are created, finite creatures. We can never know all there is to know about God.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.