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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jesus' Love is Wide and Long and High and Deep


Jesus’ Love is Wide and Long and High and Deep!



When everything around us crumbles, we will always have the love of God.  His love endures forever.  Scripture says: “And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”  (Ephesians 3:17-19)  Are our lives rooted and grounded in love like that Scripture says?  And have we even begun to grasp how wide and long and high and deep Jesus’ love is for us?


In fact Scripture also says that God’s love for His children is beyond reason.  God spoke to Israel through the prophets in the Old Testament.  Hosea was one of God’s prophets and God spoke to Israel through Hosea about His unbelievable love for them.  Instead of Hosea standing in front of the people and preaching to them with words and sermons, God instructed Hosea to instead live out in his own life what God wanted to say to the people.  Hosea put on a “show and tell” drama in front of his surprised neighbors to demonstrate what God’s love was like.  


To begin his “show and tell” God told Hosea to go and marry a prostitute.  So Hosea obeyed and found Gomer, a local prostitute, and married her.  Gomer and Hosea had three children together but then Gomer left Hosea and ran off with other men. She went into the highways and byways and shamelessly threw herself at any male that she could find.  Finally her life of debauchery and loose living caused her to be sold into slavery.  


Hosea could have been glad that his unfaithful wife was finally getting what she deserved.  But no, God told Hosea to act like God would act and go and buy Gomer back from the slave traders while his fellow Israelites watched in amazement!  I’m sure the gossip about Hosea and Gomer spread all over town!


 Hosea was to redeem Gomer and bring her home to be his wife again.  When the Israelites asked Hosea why he was doing this he would answer that God wanted them to see that they were like Gomer, the unfaithful wife and that God was like Hosea in that he never gave up and never stopped wanting His people to come back to Him.  At that time many of the Israelites had rejected God and were worshipping foreign gods.  They were also cheating one another and forgetting to help the poor among them.  So God was comparing His people to Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer.     


Hosea showed God’s people that God would always love them no matter what they did.  He might be angry, but He always wanted them back!  God loves us, His children the same way!  And even when we are unfaithful to Him, God keeps running after us and offering to redeem us from our slavery to sin and bring us back to Himself. 


Calvary is proof that God loves us.  “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  God does not buy us back to be His slaves.  But He would hope that we would serve Him in love.  We are always free to do whatever we wish since there is always freedom in the Lord.


God calls us to love the same way that He loves – to love the unlovable and help the person we may think doesn’t deserve to be helped.  If love doesn’t love the unlovable it is no virtue at all.  Scripture says: “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  (Colossians 3:12-13)       


One of the ways we can love others is by praying for them.  Richard Foster once said that if we truly love people, we will desire for them far more than it is within our power to give them, and this will lead us to prayer: Intercession is a way of loving others.  Scripture says: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you…”  (1 Samuel 12:23a) 


God calls us to pass on His great love to others.  Scripture says: ‘Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians 6:2)  We are to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. (Romans 12:15)  We  not only receive God’s love but we are to pass it along and give it away.


  If we only receive and do not give we soon lose our vitality.  A river that has no outlet – like the Dead Sea – soon cannot sustain life.  Love without action is empty. We are meant to pass on God’s love – to be a loving presence in the lives of others, even in the lives of our enemies.  We are to seek goodness in others and forgive their mistakes, because we are children of our loving and forgiving Father. 


 First Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “Love Chapter” in the Bible!  The “Love Chapter” starts out by telling us that we can do great things and give great sums of money and time and learn great mysteries, but if we do not have love we are nothing!  I get the feeling that God cares much more about how we love each other than any other accomplishment we may achieve.  Love is described in the “Love Chapter” this way:  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always keeps on going.  Love never fails.”   And the chapter ends with: “Now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” 


We don’t love God because of our intellectual beliefs or theological arguments.  But we love God because we know that He loves us.  His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that He loves us and He promises to be with us.  He says:  “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)  Jesus told us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37-39)


Jesus is saying that we are to love God with everything we’ve got – our heart and our mind and our soul and our strength.  That makes our Christian faith less of a belief system and more of a love affair! 


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