Love: the universal theme of life. We write about it, sing about it, paint it, watch it, long for it. Our hearts swell as we see it depicted on the large and small screen. Books are that much better when it is described within its pages. More than anything else in life it is what we want. But, do we know what love is?
As a teenager I spent years writing love poems without the slightest experience of love. I had a concept, a theory that I put into words in every shape and form. Some of it was good but most was not, however all of it came from an emptiness of knowledge and experience. I saw sunsets, hand holding, pounding hearts, words of adoration candle lit suppers, heart shaped cards as adequate expressions of love. I had no idea what awaited me in life and the lessons I would learn about love. But one thing I did understand is that love is the universal theme of life.
We all long to experience it and God wants us to know it. But he wants to define it for us. He wants us to know the real thing. Without love we cannot understand or even know God. Love is at the deepest foundation of God's motivation for everything he has every done. But his love is defined much differently than our own. It involves what is best for us. It has no pandering or spoiling involved in it. It is wanting the very best for us and understanding it is sometimes a difficult road getting us there. It involves great sacrifice, determination, faithfulness and tons of patience from our Father to see us through to the end. So if we want to know his will we must first be rooted in his love:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love ... (Ephesians 3:17)
It is Jesus who roots us and establishes us in love. It is by our relationship in him that we are established with God and it is that same relationship that keeps us rooted in place. You have done nothing for that love but it is freely given to you regardless. You are bathed in it as he pours it over you moment by moment.
Now, being rooted and established in love, this is apostle Paul's prayer. First:
And I pray that you ... may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ ... (Ephesians 3:18)
Yes, to grasp the magnitude of Jesus' love is an overwhelming thing that lifts us and carries us through all of this life's difficulties and burdens. Grasping this changes everything, and I mean everything, in our lives. How we walk, talk, act, sing, feel, see, understand, perceive. This is a transforming love. But it is something that we must do more than grasp. Second :
... and to know this love that surpasses knowledge ... (v. 19)
It is something we must know, experience, swim in, breathe, dive into, wrap around us as a new garment. It must permeate every ounce of our being. It must become the deepest part of the foundation of our motivation as well. It must be the driving force behind every word we speak and action we take. And it must look exactly like Jesus' love. Not our interpretation of it. Not a conforming to it but a complete transforming of heart, mind and spirit. Because, if we grasp it and know it there is something great that results from it:
—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (v. 19)
Yes, filled with all the fullness of God. Without love we cannot have it. Without love we are liars, pretenders, counterfeit people, fakes. Our entire journey here is a working out of this love that we grasp and know. It is learning, growing and becoming what God re-birthed us to be. We are meant for greatness as we grasp and know what it is to be like the greatest lover ever born. Read 1 Corinthians 13 as a starting place to understand that love is far greater than sunsets and candle lit suppers. Read those verses and then go back and examine the cross. Then, after examining it, accepting it, being rooted and established, set yourself aside, take up your own cross and do what Jesus did: Die to yourself that others may live.