God’s Design: Boundless Love

These thoughts were offered at Franklin United Methodist Church on Sunday, August 5, 2018. This message was based upon a reading from Ephesians 3:8-21.  This is message is part of a series, entitled “God’s Design,” based upon the book of Ephesians.
     I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.

 

It is a pivotal part of entire letter.  Paul moves from telling his audience about the revealed mystery of God’s plan and design to what it will look like in practice.  In the opening two chapters, Paul has talked about the universality of God’s love, it is for all, and how God’s will is that there be peace.  From this point forward, he will begin to shift focus and talk about what all that should look like in practice, how we are called to imitate God and resist evil.

In today’s reading we begin to see the shift from Paul describing the blueprint of God’s design to Paul’s description of how to implement the design.

He tells us that if this vision of an inclusive, peace which only comes through Christ is going to be achieved, then it must be “rooted and grounded in love” (see Ephesians 3:17).  We must, Paul urges the Church, let love be the anchor that holds our lives steady.  Love is the foundation of our faith.

“I pray,” writes Paul to the Church (Ephesians 3:18, New Revised Standard Version), “that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Our culture tells us that love can be many things, but faith tells us it is everything.  Tina Turner was wrong when she sang…

What’s love got to do,
go to do with it?
What’s love but a second-hand emotion.

Well the Truth is that Love has everything to do with it.  It is more than a fleeting, secondhand emotion.  It is everything; and, for the Christian it is (or should be) our all-encompassing pursuit.

We are called to continue growing in love—love for God and love for one another—till that is all there is: Love.  Christ commands us: “be perfect…as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48, NRSV).  “Just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete” (Matthew 5:48, Common English Bible).

Oh, that we might know Love:
more than a skipped beat of the heart;
a breath barely caught;
and a tingling of the skin.

Oh, that we might know Love:
whose breadth and height and depth we cannot know;
but, may come to comprehend.

Love is alpha and omega.[1]
It was first and will be the last.[2]  It was in the beginning and will outlast everything.

Love creates.[3]
It sweeps across the dark waters and brings forth life.[4]

Love delivers us from the things that enslave us and leads us through the desert to the promised land.[5]
It “maketh me to lie down in green pastures…leadeth me beside the still waters…[and] restoreth my soul.”[6]

Love casts out fear.[7]
It does not perpetuate it.[8]  It brings light to dark places.[9]

Love heals.[10]
It gives sight to the blind,[11] and bids the lame to walk.[12]

Love does not force itself on the object of its affection.[13]
It makes room for a choice.  It allows itself to be denied;[14] 
and, is always ready to be accepted.[15]

Love does not discriminate:
it sends warming rays of sunshine and nourishing rain on all.[16]
It knows no wrong.  It deems no one unworthy.  It is generous and merciful.

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.[17]

It does not run away scared.  It does not abandon.[18]  Love, true and Godly, is eternally faithful.[19]

Love comforts,[20] transforms, and inspires.
It calls us beyond ourselves.
And, it challenges us all the same:
“be complete in showing love to everyone.”[21]
It was meant to be shared.
spread throughout the world[22]
till love is all there is.[23]

(Originally written and included in a sermon on April 17, 2016 at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church)

It is my prayer that you might come to comprehend this love, though you may never fully know it.  It is my prayer that you might come to know the boundless love of God that you might share some measure of it with all those whom you meet.

Amen? and amen.

 


[1] see Revelation 21:6.
[2] see Revelation 22:13.
[3] see Genesis 1:1.
[4] see Genesis 1:2-31.
[5] see Exodus 3:7-10 and Exodus 20:2
[6] Psalm 23:2-3a, King James Version.
[7] see 1 John 4:18.
[8] see Hebrews 13:5-6.
[9] see John 1:5.
[10] see Mark 2:17.
[11] see Mark 8:22-26.
[12] see John 5:5-9a.
[13] see Luke 23:33-34.
[14] Luke 22:54-62
[15] see Psalm 145:18.
[16] see Matthew 5:45.
[17] 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Common English Bible.
[18] see John 14:18.
[19] see Psalm 136.
[20] see John 11:33-35.
[21] Matthew 5:48, Common English Bible.
[22] see Matthew 28:19-20.
[23] see Colossians 1:15-20.

Advertisements