The Wide Love of Christ
GraspPastor Jerry Gillis - February 28, 2016
Christ's love is so wide that it cannot be measured or comprehended. We must ask ourselves the question: "Why is my love so narrow when Christ's love is so wide?"
Community Group Study Notes
- What are some of the things that make our love narrow? How do we allow the full width of God’s love in Christ to flow through us? Why is this important for the sake of sharing God’s story of grace?
- We want to see Christlike relationships as an outcome in the life of every believer. How does this message shed light on what that looks like in real time?
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16-17)
I think maybe the most powerful force in all of the world is love. When we really experience love, I mean when we receive it, and we really experience it, genuine love from God - it transforms us.
I can't help but think of the words of the really insightful modern theologian, Cinderella, who said... You know, I mean she started out, right, as the servant girl who was abused and mistreated by her stepmother, but then ended up being the apple of Prince Charming's eye. And I remember her saying to Prince Charming, "Do you love me because I'm beautiful or am I beautiful because you love me?"
You see, what we know is at the heart of the gospel, at the very foundation of the gospel, we know that we ourselves are not so beautiful, are not so lovely that that's what forced God to love us. We know that it is actually the initiation of his love through Jesus in our lives that makes us beautiful. That that's actually the heartbeat of the very gospel and is central to the core of what the gospel actually teaches us. And I think that that is motivation, and I'm going to show you that in a second. Motivation for why Paul prayed a very specific prayer for the church at Ephesus. That it was motivated by this idea of the love of Christ that transforms us.
We're going to be looking today in Ephesians chapter three at a prayer that Paul prayed for the church at Ephesus, and we're going to be here for the next few weeks as we explore it. And I want us to see exactly what Paul prayed and I want you to know that this is what I prayed for us this morning and will be praying for us over the next few weeks as well. Paul prayed this in beginning in verse number fourteen of chapter three. He said, "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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."
This a beautiful prayer and I told you that this prayer was motivated by something very specific, and I want you to get a sense for what motivated this prayer, because when Paul begins this in verse number fourteen he says, for this reason I pray the following. I kneel before the Father for this reason. For what reason? Well, we know that if he says for this reason it means for a reason that he has previously stated, right? If he says for this reason, then he's referring to something that came before. So if we move backwards through Ephesians a little bit, we see at the very beginning of chapter three in verse number one, Paul says this: "For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles." And then there's a dash. See what Paul did here? He actually started a thought and then got off of it and then came back and finished it when we get to verse fourteen. So he starts the exact same way: "for this reason" - me Paul - and he's about to say, this is why I'm praying, but then he gets side-tracked and starts talking about the mystery of the church and all that of that in chapter three, and then comes back to it in verse fourteen - for this reason I kneel before the Father. But the thing is, if in chapter three verse one he says for this reason, that means that the reason is before even that, right? You following me? This is kind of like a Bible study kind of thing. This is kind of a tool, kind of a ninja skill that you have to develop, right, when you start understanding the context of Scripture. So if we start backing up in chapter two, and you'll just have to look at this, I'm not going to show you on the screens, but if you start backing up in chapter two, in verse number nineteen which is kind of the next series of thoughts, it says consequently. Do you know what that is? That means that something came before it as a consequence and as a result this happened. If you back up even further to verse fourteen in chapter two it says for... Well, we've got to back up further, right? In verse eleven it says therefore. Paul, you're killing me! What is the reason?
I think if you go all the way back to the beginning of chapter two, this is where you'll find him begin the seed-thought, okay? Here's what he says beginning in verse one. He says, "As for you," - you Ephesians, you Gentiles - "you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. And like the rest we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved."
So Paul, listen, there's the seed thought, and then Paul gives you a series of therefores, fors, consequently, for this reason, and he basically says for this reason, I kneel before the Father in heaven. What's the reason? The reason is because how God has demonstrated that even though we were unlovely, that even though we were unlovable seemingly, God has shown us an incredible love in Christ, that while we were dead in our sins and our transgressions, when we were only deserving - listen carefully - we were only deserving of the wrath and condemnation of a just and holy God, because we had rejected his direction for our lives. When we were in that spot, he loved us and his Son came to rescue us. That's why, Paul says I get on my knees and I pray that you will know the love of Christ.
So, Paul says - why is Paul praying specifically here? I mean, what is it that's not only what's motivating his prayer, but what is it that he's praying about? What's he asking for? Well, you can see it. He's asking that we would have power together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how high and how wide and how long and how deep is the love of Christ. That we would be able to grasp this. Well, the funny thing is is that when you first hear that you kind of go, o.k. cool, that makes good sense to me. We need to be able to grasp the love of Christ. The problem is, is what Paul continues to pray messes us up. Because listen to what he says in verse number nineteen. He says I want you to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
Hold on a second. So you want us, Paul, you're praying that we would be able to grasp the love of Christ. But now you're telling us that you want us to know this love that's beyond knowing. I want you to know the unknowable. I want you to measure the measureless. How in the world do we grasp that? Because that's what he's praying for, that we would grasp the love of Christ.
Well, that word in the original language is a great word that when translated - I like the translation of grasp, it's a very good translation because the word means to lay hold of, or - listen to this - to apprehend. So what that means is this: when it comes to the love of Christ, we can't comprehend it but we can apprehend it. We can't fully wrap our mind around it, but we can lay hold of it and experience it. This is a beautiful picture for us because the actual love of Christ is mind-numbing for us. And the reason that Paul is talking about this idea of the love of Christ is because what it does for us in our relationship with God is it actually stabilizes our relationship with God and gives us a foundation on which we base this relationship.
In fact, when you look at the end of verse seventeen in our passage that we're looking at, he says that I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. That's the idea of being stabilized and given a foundation in relationship to God based on this love. And then here's what Paul does: Paul gives us a four-dimensional look at what the love of Christ looks like. He says it is wide. It's high. It's long. It's deep.
So Paul is basically explaining to us the architecture of God's love in Christ. That makes perfect sense, by the way, because what Paul was doing in chapter two is he had already started that mental picture for us because of how he refers to those of us that are in his church, those of us who belong to Jesus. Listen to what he says in chapter two verse twenty-one: In Jesus the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. So he planted a thought in the minds of the Ephesians as they are reading this about the nature of the temple which for them was like a wonder of the world, and this idea of a temple is one that has architecture, and he explains the love of Christ based on the architecture of God's love, of how long and how high and how wide and how deep the love of Christ is.
So, Paul was actually praying that we would be able to grasp this in some way. That in some way we'd be able to take hold of or apprehend the idea of his love, and so what I want us to do is I want us to begin over the next few weeks to think about the architecture of God's love for us in Christ. And today here's what I want you to know: when you leave if somebody in the parking lot says - they're getting off work and they just say hey, what was the message about today? You can say well it was this: Christ's love is wide. You say that's it? Like are you about to let us go right now? No I'm going to tell you more about that. But if somebody asks, that's what it's about. Christ's love is wide.
Let me see if I can begin to unpack that a little bit because that's a big statement. The first thing that you can notice is that Christ's love is wide in the Church. In the church itself, Christ's love is extraordinarily wide. I'm going to explain that to you in just a second by showing you the context of which Paul is writing in the book of Ephesians but, let me back us up for just a minute so that I can give us a broader view, okay? Sometimes it's good for us to kind of get in the helicopter and raise it up just a little bit so we can see a little broader.
For a really long time, the only thing known as the people of God was Israel. Israel itself was the people of God. God chose them, they were a special people, a unique identity, a unique ethnicity in a unique geography that he was going to use for his purposes. He had a mission for Israel and that was they would glorify God in the nations, in the world, that they would show the world who God really is. That this wasn't just about them, this was actually about using them to demonstrate to the world of who the nature of God was. But they were the people of God.
In fact, when you read the psalmist, he says it this way in Psalm sixty-seven. He says, "May the peoples praise you, oh God; may the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and shout for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and you guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, God: may all the peoples praise you." I like how they use the word peoples by the way, it sounds like we used to do that in the south, right? All the peoples were there over at the mall. Was the mall crowded? Yeah, all the peoples were there, you know? So, apparently it's bad English, but it's good Hebrew, so I'm comfortable with that.
So all the people, right? That this was the idea that Israel was to be. In fact, when you read the prophet Isaiah in chapter forty-three and chapter forty-four and - you can go back and look at that if you want, if you write it down - you'll see three times in those two chapters God says to Israel you are my witnesses. You are to be a bearer of the news that I am God alone, that there is no God besides me, and you are going to show the world this very identity.
See, the thing is, is that all we knew as the people of God was this idea of Israel. But Israel got a little bit inverted. Instead of doing what their mission was, in demonstrating the glory of God to the world, they started sectioning themselves off from everyone, including all of the nations around them. Now they were to be a distinct people, but in that distinction they weren't to be so separate as to not be able to influence and impact the people that God had given them a mission to reach. And so in that process, even in the building of their temples and tabernacles and stuff, there was places where the Gentiles were not allowed to go. You get out of here. And by the way there were signs put up in the temple, hey if you're not a Jew and you come here, you're going to get killed. O.k., a little distance there, right? We're creating a little distance at that point.
So ultimately, Israel was falling down on the job, but God had promised that He was going to rescue the world through him, so thank God, there was a Jew who was faithful who was born in a town called called Bethlehem to a mother named Mary, who grew up sinlessly, who went, preached the Kingdom of God, who went to a cross, died for our sins, satisfied the justice of God, rose from the dead, ascended to the Father and has promised he's going to return. He fulfilled everything Israel failed to fulfill, and God honored his covenant and his promise to rescue the world through Israel and he did that in Jesus. And when he did that in the person of Jesus, here's what happened. Jesus created - out of his own death and his own blood - Jesus created a new people of God called the Church. And this is extraordinary, by the way, because the love of Christ is wide in the Church even though it seemed like the bridge was far too deep to be crossed between being Jewish and the people of God and being non-Jewish because they didn't have anything in common in terms of background, in terms of ethnicity, it terms of history, in terms of religious heritage. They were so far removed from one another.
But listen to the words of Paul in Ephesians chapter two. He says, "Therefore remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands) - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which Jesus put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near."
You see, this was such an incredible chasm. It's hard for us to even understand the greatness of the chasm between Jew and non-Jew. And in Jesus' death, here's what he demonstrated: he demonstrated how wide his love is by incorporating not only the Jewish people who believe in him as Messiah, who were always the people of God, but also bringing in those who were not Jewish, who were not privileged to participate in that, who did not have the covenants, who did not have the patriarchs, who did not have the temple, who did not have the Ten Commandments, who didn't have any of those things, but now by faith in Jesus the two have become one new kind of humanity called the Church. This is how wide the love of Christ is in the Church.
Have you every heard the phrase, birds of a feather flock together? Of course you have, right? And the funny thing is, is that phrase hasn't been around forever, although there were some indication like in some of the ancient Greek philosophers that they referred to some of that stuff, they didn't really say that. The first time we really see that is in about, I don't know what it is, it's like fifteen something, mid 1500's, a guy named William Turner wrote a book called you know, something about kind of running after the Romish fox or something I'm sure you just read it. But that's where it showed up, this phrase, it's called Rescuing the Romish Fox, I think. This phrase birds of a feather flock together - that's kind of the first time we saw it in English. The reason that it stuck, it's kind of just a, you know, a statement, a catch-phrase, a parable. The reason that it stuck, is because it was so obvious to everyone, right?
I mean, if you ever looked up in the sky and you see birds flying in formation - have you ever done that? Like you just look and you go, wow. Or you see them all in a flock, flying? They're all the same bird. They're always the same bird. Now they - birds of a feather flock together, right? You look up and you go, yeah, they do. They're all the same bird, flying together. You don't ever look up and out of nowhere you just go, well look at that! There's a cardinal, a brown-thrasher, a red-breasted whippoorwill (I may have made that up, I'm not sure), an eagle, a hawk, a seagull. You know, whatever else, there's other birds. And some of you are going oh, I know, I know one, I know one. No, it's okay, it's just an illustration. You can relax now. Tell your family later, like at lunch. It'll be great. They'll appreciate that. He missed this one. He didn't say anything about a canary and he should of. And he made no mention of chickadees. He's discriminating against chickadees and I know. I know. I already know he hates cats, and now he's gone on to birds. This man is evil. So, everybody relax.
Have you ever seen all of those birds together? I don't know what I'm doing. Have you ever seen all of those birds together flying as a flock? Like in formation? Of course you haven't. Ah, there's an eagle, there's a hawk, there's a chickadee, there's a canary, a red-breasted whippoorwill (whatever they are). Right? You don't see that. Why? Because they're not birds of a feather. They're birds of a different feather. And so they're not flying together, right?
The problem is, is that in the church we often see the same thing. There's a lot of birds in the church, man. Lot of birds. Some of you are hawks. Some of you are chickadees. Some of you are storks. That's a bird, right? Seagulls, right? Some of you are b--we've got a lot of different birds, and what should not happen in the church is that we should not have the idea that just because we hang out with people that are like us that that's what the church is made up of. Because any one who has been born from above in this particular metaphor that we're using is a bird. Anybody who's come to faith in Jesus, they're a bird. And no matter whether you're a hawk or an eagle or a chickadee or a canary or a cardinal, we're now birds of a feather because of what Christ has done in breaking down the walls that distanced us, and now our identification is in him. Because his love should be shown to be wide in the church.
Now I remember being in Georgia. I was - I don't know twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, whatever, I was in ministry already. I had been invited to speak in this small rural town in Georgia. And while I was there I spoke in a lot of schools, and they asked me if I could speak in the schools and then invite all the, all the students and athletes. And I spoke to football teams, and cheerleaders and school assemblies and they let me come in and speak at at-risk behavior, and then invite all of them to this particular church that night and I would get to preach the gospel to them. Well, it went pretty good, actually in the schools. I didn't mess it up too bad and they all came. Lots of them came, and at the time they said this was the largest Christian gathering of students in this age-group that had ever happened in that town. And they were all jammed in everywhere in this church. The church wasn't very big. I mean it might have been, the church size was probably this section of our worship center. They were jammed in. They were all over the place. Brought chairs out, all of that stuff. So I preached my heart out, preached the gospel to all of these folks. Lots of them came to faith in Jesus. I mean it was a wonderful time. Lots of them came to faith in Jesus.
And there was a whole group of athletes - African American athletes - who were over here who had come and received Jesus. The pastor was talking to me as everybody's being counseled and ministered to and he said, man, this is incredible what God's done. And I was like, man, you're not kidding. It shocked me. I'm like, people responded to the gospel. That's fantastic. All kinds of different people. And he pointed over here and he said, he said man, I sure hope these young men find a church home. I looked at him and I said, I think they have. Like, God brought them here. And they heard the message of the Gospel and they gave their lives to Christ here. He said my deacons will never allow that. And I said, you need new deacons. Because that's just sad. That's just crazy.
Now, sometimes those things happen very obviously. Sometimes they're not obvious at all, right? We just don't want to hang around with people that aren't like us. We just don't. But sometimes God does something amazing when churches begin to get hold of this.
I was in South Africa in 2003. You want to talk about division. South Africa. Apartheid. I'm with a guy named Etienne who's a white man in South Africa but my translator for all the places that I'm preaching was a black African man who spoke seven languages. Incredibly impressive. I would say one sentence, a ten second sentence and it would take him two minutes to translate it into, depending on how many languages were listening to me preach. And he was the single interpreter. He would interpret it in this language and then in this language and then.. And I would say something, you know, God loves you. And then I would take a nap and wake up and say, Give your life to Christ. And then take a nap and come back and eat a sandwich. Right? Because it was...
So, Etienne, the white guy from South Africa - their church had a need because they were trying to reach out to all the villages and areas around them and it was a white church, white South African church. And they were trying to reach out because they knew that God had called them to love and to reach people, and they'd been looking for another person that would be able to come on their staff and be able to help them reach out into all of these places, but all these places spoke various languages. There was Xhosa and Hutu and Zulu - that they were all trying to figure out what, you know. And I looked at them and I went, here's your man right there. This guy speaks every language on the planet. He's your guy. So for the remainder of the week, Etienne and I began to pray, God, is this what you would have? Is this what you would want? By the time we were done, I'm thrilled to report that they brought him on as a pastor on their staff team in South Africa in an all white church - brought a black African onto their staff because they understood something. The love of Christ in the Church is wide. It's wide.
You see, this is something that we have to get that we have to embrace because Christ's love is wide in the Church. But listen carefully: Christ's love is wider than the Church. It's actually wider than the Church. Do you know when Jesus came, he came as kind of the last of the prophets. He was more than a prophet certainly. He was the Son of God. But he came as the last of the prophets, and then the line of the prophets, those prophets had always come to Israel, and so too did Jesus. And Jesus even declared that he had come to Israel.
If you remember the story in Matthew fifteen - we won't look at it, but the story of a Canaanite woman who had a demon possessed daughter and she said, hey, Son of David, can you help me? And he said, I've come to the lost sheep of Israel. Now, he did help, by the way. But he said, I've come to the lost sheep of Israel. But, even though his ministry was to the Jews, when he started looking forward to the cross - he knew what that was about. He was a prophet to the Jews, but he was Savior of the whole world. Because in John chapter twelve it says this: Jesus said when I, even I, am lifted up from the earth - that's referring to his crucifixion - I will draw all people to myself. That wherever they come from, whoever they are, Jew or non-Jew - it doesn't matter - I am the Savior of the world. I am here to be able to reach people.
So here's what we know. After Jesus' death and his resurrection he gave a commission to his disciples in Matthew twenty-eight that sounded like this. He said "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." Why? Because not only, ladies and gentlemen, was his love wide in the Church, but it was wider than the Church. Those who had not yet been able to hear and respond and experience the love of God in Christ, so that they could be reconciled to the Father. It is bigger.
I probably walked at this point - it's nearing thirty countries that I've walked the streets of those countries in my ministry. And I'm grateful for what I've been able to see. Some of the countries that I have walked the streets of, I've been overwhelmed, because in my mind I'm still thinking to myself, phew, Your love is wide enough for them. They may not know it yet, but Your love's wide enough for them. By the way, in some of the countries that I've been in, because of my citizenship (is in America), I'm not very welcome in some of the places that I've been. I'm not going to name them so I don't get into any trouble. But I'm not welcome in some of those places because of my citizenship. There's other places that I've been in that I've not been welcome because of my faith. There's other places because of my skin. Places in the world where I have been not the most welcomed person in the world.
But do you know that even if some of those places view me as an enemy because of my country or view me as an enemy because of my faith or view me as an enemy because of my background or ethnicity or skin tone or whatever - do you realize still that the Lord Jesus that I love and serve and have surrendered my life to, that his love is still wide enough? Even for our enemies. Do you remember what he said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter five? He said, "You've heard it said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Don't even tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Don't even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
You see, ladies and gentlemen, Jesus understood what it was - listen, his love was so wide that even he had love for his enemies. It's no coincidence by the way, that he was crucified with his arms stretched wide. That's no coincidence. Because in that moment where he had people who viewed him as an enemy, that crucified him, be that Roman government officials or be that Jewish religious establishment people - whatever that was, whatever that looked like, no matter. They were there, and Jesus arms were still open when he calls out to his Father, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, quoting Psalm twenty two's first opening lines, which is a Messianic Psalm that had they opened it up they would have seen exactly what was happening in that very moment talked about from hundreds of years earlier and prophesied that this was going to happen because this was the Messiah, the Son of God. Even in his weakest moment, Jesus' love was wide enough for those who considered him an enemy. With arms outstretched on a cross, he is still saying come to me. That is a wide, wide, love.
You see, his love is wide in the Church, but it is wider than the Church because it encompasses the whole world. But his love is wider than the world. The world we live in is a big place, isn't it? I mean there's seven and a half billion people. When you start getting to the b's, I just start losing my mind. Right? A million's a lot, a big number to me, right? And then you get into hundreds of millions and when you get to billions I just start going phew, right? Seven and a half billion people on a ball, the earth, that is about twenty-five, twenty-six thousand miles around in circumference. So for instance, if you had a highway on the equator and could drive all the way around the earth, it'd take you a couple of months. You know, with pit stops, and getting something to eat and gas needs and all that. It'd take you two months to drive around that. That's the earth. It's a big place.
But even though this is a big place with a lot of people, it's really small when you think about where it sits in the midst of other things. Like the sun. Right? We're a long way from the sun. But we're really small when compared to that big star. In fact, if you just drew a straight line on the circumference of the sun, you could put a hundred and nine earths just like this in a straight line on the circumference of the sun. It's extraordinary. If you could liquefy the earth so that you could pour it into the sun because of the volume, it would take 1.3 million earths to fill up the volume of the sun. That's how big it is.
But do you realize as big as that is, the sun, I mean that's beyond my comprehension. And that there are planets that exist that orbit around it, the earth being one and there are a few others, right? That we call our solar system. And you've got this massive sun around which these things operate in the solar system. Do you realize that our solar system is only one of tens of billions of solar systems that exist in our galaxy? Tens of billions of solar systems. Now you're starting to... And our galaxy is called the Milky Way. And if you looked at the width of our galaxy, the Milky Way, from this end to this end it's a little over five trillion miles long. That's just our galaxy. Because when you look through the extreme deep field Hubbell telescope - I haven't, but I've seen pictures. I didn't work at NASA, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express - no, I'm kidding, right? So that's kind of how you feel at that moment. But when you look at that, listen, here's what you find. Not only does our galaxy the Milky Way exist, but that telescope tells us that there is somewhere between 100 and 200 billion other galaxies in our universe. O.k., like four minutes ago there were a number of you that just went brr brr brr... Like that you just shut down. You're like, yeah, man. Kaboom.
Here's what I want you to understand. Love made all of it, because God made all of it and God is love. Specifically, Christ did it. Listen to what Paul said in Colossians chapter one, and you'll begin to understand this. He said, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him, Jesus, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
I wonder how many of us have been guilty of smalling down the width of the love of Christ? That when we think of Christ we only think in terms of thirty-three years, and forget that this is God the Son who has pre-existed everything that ever was, and it is in him and through him that everything that has been made has been made which means that it was born in love. This is how wide the love of Christ is. It is wide in the Church. It is wider than the Church to encompass the whole world, but it is wider than even the world. And it makes you wonder what is he doing even paying attention to me when you have a width of time and space that is beyond human comprehension? Because his love is wide. That's why. It's wide.
So, the question for us is that if Paul's prayer is that we might grasp how wide the love of Christ is, how do we do that? Well, we do what we're doing now. We contemplate in our minds and allow the leakage to come out of our ears when we start thinking about the width of the love of Christ. But we know that we can't just spend our time in our heads because we can't possibly know the unknowable. We can't comprehend all there is to know about the love of Christ. But when we start to try and comprehend it, at the very least we might begin the process of repenting in saying I have so short changed the width of your love, Lord Jesus. I've short changed it. I have smalled it down.
Maybe another thing is that we start asking ourself some questions about why the love of Christ feels dammed up. The flow of the love of Christ feels dammed up in our hearts. I want to encourage you to sit on a question this week. Why is my love so narrow when Christ's love is so wide? I want you to sit on that this week. Why is my love so narrow when Christ's love is so wide? Now, understand that when we're talking about the idea of love, this isn't just some mushy marshmallow thing that says, oh, everybody do what you want, blah, blah, blah. I just love them anyways. Not that! Love has teeth. Love requires sacrifice. When we look at what love is, when we see God rescuing humanity who deserved condemnation and wrath, that we did nothing to deserve it. He's not condoning what we've done, he's rescuing us from it. That's what love is. So this isn't a scenario where love just means, oh, you know what? That's just their deal. Love never compromises the truth. That's unloving to do. Love is always truthful. But still, sometimes we throw out both truth and love and just want to give in to things in our hearts because somebody's not like us, that we just feel better about making sure that we feel, like they're just not like us.
Here's the problem. You're only a bird in the flock because of Jesus. You didn't get there yourself. You were under condemnation and wrath. If you are misunderstanding in any way and you say, well, I'm not me. I'm actually a pretty good person. It is for that very thought that you deserve hell. That thought. That's why you deserve hell. Because it is self-reliant and thumbs its nose at God sending his Son to die in your place. You're suggesting that the blood of Christ is a common thing that you could trample over and you have no need of it. That is why we deserve condemnation. Because God knows all things at all times about everything and in his glorious wisdom and his majestic mercy and in his unfathomable love he sent his Son to die in our place because that is the only way to be rescued from our sin. Because as a just and holy God he is going to deal with sin. He's not going to wash it away, wipe it away, throw it under the rug. He's going to deal with it and he's going to judge it and he did that in Jesus. It is a glorious, incredible news. The reason the news is so good is because the news was so bad. That's why it's good news and not just news.
So, we have to just pause and think and dwell and ask, why is my love so narrow when Christ's love is so wide? Why do I just want to make sure that everybody that I don't like is just a long way from me? Kick them out of the church. Kick them out of the country. Kick them out of the world. I don't care. I don't like them. Why is your love so narrow when his love is so wide? We can't even get over our hate for political candidates. People for whom Jesus died. Sit on that. Why is my love so narrow when his love is so wide? And then begin to action it because you can't comprehend everything about the love of Christ but you can apprehend some of it.
So here's what I'm going to ask you to do when we leave in a moment. Two things. One - if you're here and you've never come into a relationship with God through his Son, you will intentionally separate yourself from God. But God in Christ through his shed blood on a cross has made a way for you who are far away to come near. That by turning from trusting in yourself in your sin and putting your faith in Jesus, he can save you. Reconcile you to the Father. Give you a brand new life. Forgive your sin. Some of you are saying, my sin list is so long. He could never... What? What? I'm sorry. You need to just shhh, danielson. Here's why: his love is wider than the universe. Do you think he's stumbling around going, uhhh, Gillis, what am I going to do? The death of Christ is satisfactory for your sin, for my sin as we put our faith and trust in him. No matter what has happened to you, no matter your background, no matter what you've done. You can be forgiven. But you come and you surrender yourself to Christ. And so when we dismiss in a moment I hope you'll come by the Fireside Room, talk to one of our pastors about that. I hope you'll do that. But for the remainder of you, I want to challenge you to do something. Because I want to be living out the reality of Christ's love being wide in the church. Before you leave today, meet somebody that you don't know, that you don't have any idea if they're like you or not like you. You don't know. Meet them. Figure it out and tell them you love them in Jesus' name.
Father, thanks for the reminders today. Your love is beyond our comprehension but because of Christ it is within our apprehension. We can hold on and experience it. Would you make us a place that asks hard enough questions like why our love is so narrow when your love is so wide? And you would show us areas where we need to grow in the love of Jesus. Because your love is beyond our comprehension. Help us today to love one another well in the church, to love those that are outside the church, because your love is wider than the world itself. We love you and we thank you for a love that is beyond our ability to fully know but is within our ability to lay our hands on and touch and feel and experience. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.
God bless you folks. Have a great week.