Four-Dimensional Love (Part 2)

July 3, 2013 at 9:40 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (emphasis added)

In Part One I mentioned the height, the breadth, and the length of Christ’s love, but now I want you to see the depth – the “roots.”

Rooted love is not complacent about its depth. “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” (Ephesians 3:19) In the love of Christ we have the potential to know the unknowable! To know what can only be known in Christ – and can never be known apart from Christ. How deep is the love of Christ? It is eternally deep – we will never get to the bottom of it. My relationship with other human beings who I love – even my relationship with my wife – when it comes to its depths, its richness – is dependent on my knowledge of God.

They say that loving human relationships (especially marriage) are hard work, but the real “work” of love should not be “toil.” It is joyous and exciting work. It is going down deep, but it is like digging for buried treasure, not digging a grave. If you have only a superficial experience of the love of God in Christ, let me plead with you to spend time alone – late at night if you have to – early in the morning if you have to – missing a meal or a nap if you have to – deep in the Bible – in Bible study and in prayer – getting to know God, and bringing up the treasures you find in His depths. Roots press down hard and deep, but they bring up sweet water and nutrients from the earth – up the trunk and down the branches – to strengthen the tree and make the fruit bountiful.

Most good Bible lessons contain warnings and comforts. The comforting part of this one is supposed to be that you now realize that the love of Christ is four-dimensional and that you can be rooted and grounded in it and it’s wonderful. But here is the warning part: Do not make the mistake of thinking that the reason to love your spouse or your friends is so that they will love you in return. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts, but it is not given to us to be used as a manipulation technique. Its purpose is not to teach you to give so you can get. That’s probably the major error in many otherwise good books on marriage, love, and relationships. The theory is that your “love tank” is empty. You feel empty because the special someone in your life doesn’t speak your love language or you haven’t learned to speak his or hers. You are from Mars, and your spouse is from Venus, so you need to learn to be a good alien, so your spouse will treat you right in return. Therefore, you can transform your spouse by serving him or her.

No! Jesus talked about this all the time and it always made people mad. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts…” “Even the sinners and the publicans and the unbelievers can do this…” These teachings of Jesus, which argue from the lesser to the greater, and contrast true love with superficial manipulation, have been adopted as principles for running businesses and winning friends and influencing people. “Be nice to others so they will be nice to you.” “Serve them and they’ll let you lead them.” When Jesus says that even the wicked understand the principle of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” He’s making a comparison, not setting the standard. You and I will get into big trouble if we take something good – service, self-sacrifice, selfless giving – and we use it as a means to get our needs met. News flash: You do have needs – but your spouse – or the person you care about – is not there to be manipulated into meeting those needs. Even if you are using very soft hands and very kind words in your manipulation, it is still selfish manipulation.

Your spouse or your loved one – by the grace of God – will one day make a very good spouse or best friend – and maybe they already do – but they are going to make a terrible Jesus. Your idols (the things or people you expect to meet your needs apart from God) will always let you down – and what you have idolized, you will eventually demonize.

As Christians, all our needs are met where?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Jesus showed the height of love on the Cross: He was “lifted up” so that He might draw all men to Himself. He showed the breadth: His arms were stretched out wide – open, inviting, welcoming. He spoke forth, showing the length of love: “Father, forgive them;” “Son, behold thy mother;” “It is finished.” He was nailed to a “tree” which was rooted to the Earth. He was both human and divine, and He wasn’t there suffering in order to evoke sympathy so they would come and take Him down. He was there to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to love those of us who were not just undeserving but ill-deserving of God’s love.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Four-Dimensional Love (Part 1)

June 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

What is the most attractive part of a tree? Some people prefer the leaves, and they can certainly be beautiful.

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Some like the trunk – it’s sturdy and regal.

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Children tend to favor the branches (for climbing!)

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But if we were playing Family Feud, where they supposedly survey 100 people to get the most popular answers, and the question was: “What part of a tree do you like the best?” I think the number one answer would probably be: the fruit.

fruit tree

Fruit usually looks pretty, often tastes good, and it contains within it the seeds for another tree. I could argue that the fruit seems to be the whole reason for the tree. It is the “product” of the tree – what it “produces.” (Which is probably why you can buy it in the “produce” section of the grocery store.)

If the leaves, trunk, branches, and fruit are the most attractive parts of a tree, what is the least attractive part..? Did you say the roots? Here in hurricane country it is not at all unusual to see an overturned tree with the roots (formerly buried and out of sight) protruding up out of the ground. They are gnarled, dark, and just plain ugly from most people’s perspective.

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Despite the fact that we find the roots of a tree not very aesthetically pleasing, I think that God might disagree. It may very well be that God finds the roots to be the most attractive part of a tree, because, when it comes to being “rooted in love,” Ephesians 3:17 and 18 say that rooted love is four-dimensional love.

First, the love that we get from being rooted in Christ is a love that reaches up – up to God. This dimension is called the “height.” Most of the time we limit our lessons on love to the horizontal plane, but loving God Himself is the best assurance of true salvation. No one can truly love God without first receiving Christ. It is impossible to truly love someone else without loving God, and it is impossible to truly love God without knowing Christ. To know the height of the love of Christ in your relationships with others, you must first have trusted and received Him as Savior.

The love of Christ not only extends upward to God, but it also reaches out to the sides. This is the “breadth” of which Ephesians 3:18 speaks. Love that is rooted in Christ is wide love. It covers the best and the worst. It covers good times and bad times. Do you love when you are loved first? Even the world shows this kind of counterfeit love. Anyone can greedily receive good things and respond with some degree of reciprocity. The real question is whether you look to spread out the love you receive from Christ no matter how far the person you love strays to the right or to the left. The love we receive from Christ needs to provide cool and refreshing shade for those who don’t feel loved. Everyone with whom we come into contact ought to feel peace and comfort and a welcoming influence as they pass under the shade of Christ’s outstretched love which radiates from us.

Love that is rooted in Christ also reaches out into the third dimension – toward others (the “length” referenced in Ephesians 3:18). True love – rooted and grounded in Christ – is never just passive. It is active. It extends toward others. The Bible knows nothing of “withdrawing love.” If you love something (or someone), so they say, set them free – and if they don’t come back, it was never meant to be. That is nonsense. Christian love pursues. Pursue those that the Lord has placed within your sphere of influence. Win their hearts. Imitate God: if you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. If you draw near to others, then Christ in you may very well draw them near to you.

Are you satisfied with your capacity to love? Don’t be. Ask yourself, “To whom am I reaching out?” God so loved us that He gave… Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost… He went after a bride

Next time, we will look at the “fourth dimension” of Christ’s love.


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