We tend to talk a lot about what we ought to be doing in the Christian life. And what we do matters, of course. But today we'll start a new sermon series that traces right actions back to their motivating source: Christ's love. Before we can live in a loving manner, we must first experience and understand God's love for us. When life gets rough (and it will) we need the comfort and strength that only comes from a deep knowledge of God's love. We need a deeper understanding of God's love for the whole world as well as His love for us individually, because knowing God's love is the starting line from which our Christian lives are to proceed.
Love that can't be measured
In Ephesians 3, Paul prays for his fellow believers to know Christ's love:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Before we can love others, we must understand this amazing love. But there's just one problem: this love is immeasurable. It's so "wide and long and high and deep" that we could well wonder how we might ever understand it. Paul helps us here, though, praying that God would give us strength through the Holy Spirit. Since we can't achieve understanding on our own, we need the Holy Spirit's power to work in us to help us know Christ's love.
Rooted and Grounded in Love
One of the reasons this understanding of love is so important is that love is the "why" behind the gospel. Christ did all he did for us out of his love for us. That same love is what draws us to Christ and motivates our love toward others. And this is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling; we are to be "rooted and grounded in love." In other words, love should form the foundation for our whole being, our whole way of life. Such a foundation of love cannot be taught in a classroom or a sermon. This kind of love requires an experience with God. Why? Because it is Christ in us that strengthens us and reveals God's love to us. We must have an active, deep relationship with Christ if we hope to truly understand God's love.
Christ at home in us
Paul prays that Christ would "dwell in your hearts through faith." This word, dwell, connotes permanent, ongoing residence. If Christ dwells in us, he is completely at home in us. Christ is not a renter. We don't give him the spare bedroom of our hearts. And he's no passive roommate either. When Christ dwells in us, He gets full run of the house. When we turn over that control to Him, we will begin to experience the fathomless depths of His love for us.
Why do we need to know Christ's love?
So what's the big deal? Why should we desire to know the height, width, depth, and length of God's love for us? The answer, according to Paul, is that we would "be filled with all the fullness of God." This is another way of saying that we will become spiritually mature, living out the character of Christ and walking in love. We can't offer what we don't know; we won't offer what we haven't experienced. We must know and experience Christ's love in order to share it. Moreover, we experience and understand this love "together with all the saints." That means we can't go on this journey alone. Our individual understanding of Christ's love affects everyone around us in the body of Christ!
Pray with Paul
So where do we start on this endless journey of knowing Christ's love? A good starting point is to pray Paul's prayer right along with him. Pray for yourself, for your family, for your church. Pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you might know Christ's immeasurable love, and be filled to overflowing with Christ-likeness.
Listen to the sermon here.