“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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:17b-21)
When you take the time to really process what Paul is saying here to the people of Ephesus you almost feel overwhelmed. This may sound strange to some people, but one of the things I love about God is that I will never be able to grasp the abyss of His love.
I have seen God’s love in the joy of a couple finding out they were pregnant with their first child, and I have also seen God’s love as a husband embraces his wife after she miscarried another child that no matter how far long she was had already become a deep part of their life. I have seen God’s love in the heartache people experience as they watch a friend or family member struggle, and not be able to take their loved one’s pain away. I have seen God’s love as people rally around and support someone battling cancer. I have seen God’s love in the simple act of one neighbor raking leaves for another neighbor. I have felt the pain of God’s love for a person as they walked away from Him for something they thought would bring them happiness. I have seen God’s never ending love in the tears of a person who had wrecked their life with drugs and after many attempts at recovery gets it for the first time. I have seen God love people who thought they were unlovable. I have seen God’s love in many powerful ways, yet this does not even begin to scratch the surface of the depths of God’s love for humanity.
God loves us enough to give us a choice to live for Him or not. He does not force Himself on us. God loves us so much He disciplines, rebukes, and brings justice when we disobey or walk outside the life He created for us (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:1-13). He will not allow His children to be spoiled brats who get what they want whenever they want it. God listens to us. God knows and understands our pain. When we hurt, He hurts with us. He feels our brokenness when our heart breaks. God knows we are messy people, but He will gladly step into the mess of our lives if we allow Him to.
How do I know these things? I know this because of Jesus. Jesus experienced first hand the pain of losing someone He deeply cared about (John 11:1-44). Jesus was hated for healing people, for loving people society deemed unlovable, and for caring about sinners.
I hope you have not experienced this, but have you ever felt the pain of being rejected by someone, having them turn their back on you? Here is a picture that reveals the greatest depth of God’s love. The only way for people to be able to be reconciled in their relationship with God was for the ultimate sacrifice to be made. The sacrifice was the life of God’s One and Only Son, Jesus, the Lamb of God. Merely dying on a cross would not be enough. If that was all that was needed anyone would have been able to fulfill that role; however, this ultimate sacrifice meant baring the sins of the world. For our sins to be forgiven, for us to once again be able to have a relationship with the God who created us Jesus would have to die a horrible death as well as physically take on the punishment of humanity’s sin. Remember that Jesus did not sin (1 Peter 2:22). God hates sin. God wants nothing to do with sin. Sin is the thing that hurts our relationship with God. Sin is the thing that drives a wedge between us and God. At the moment that Jesus needed His Father the most—as he was dying on the cross baring our sins—God could not stand to look at his son. God turned his back on Jesus (Matthew 27:46). Why would God send His one and only Son to live as one of us in order to die for us? Why would Jesus die for us? Why would Jesus bare our sin and allow himself to be rejected by his own Father? The answer is beyond our imagination, yet simple really. HE LOVES YOU!