GOD IS LOVE
DIMENSIONS OF HIS LOVE
“THE BREADTH AND LENGTH AND DEPTH AND HEIGHTH”
“GOD is Love” 1 JOHN 4:8, 16
Having felt impressed to write a single article on God’s love it is now apparent that this will be a series of short writings in an attempt to present a brief outline of this majestic subject. The enormity of such an undertaking, and the sense of total ineptness on my part, is coupled with a prayer that HE who chooses the weak things to confound the mighty, the base things to confound the wise, may be pleased to do so here.
I remember probably 30 years ago pondering the responsibilities that God has given to men and the great need we have to draw from HIM the resources to be found faithful in all of the different aspects of our lives. The man of God must be a good husband learning by Christ’s example to love his wife AS Christ loves the church. The man of God must be a good father who discovers through his experience with the Heavenly Father to raise his children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. Failure in these prevents us from having the experience and understanding to be expressions of wisdom in the Church. The man of God must be a good employee/employer as we recognize our accountability unto Him. The man of God must also be a witness and an example to the world without where we walk in wisdom and righteousness. As I contemplated these things the scripture in Ephesians 3:18 came alive and I was struck with the fact that there are four dimensions of knowing Him and His Love that we are to discover and experience.
“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”
The first dimension is the height of this LOVE. It is here that we must see that every aspect of God’s dealings with us is to enable us to discover that HE IS HOLY. Failure to understand this will dim and corrupt our ability to know His other dimensions; knowing HIS breadth, length and depth. Scripture is clear that “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord”. It is the responsibility of all those who minister to the people of God to set forth a clear presentation of the Living Christ. In so doing the hope would be that each life would see THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE and forsake everything in pursuit of the acquisition of it. Without the aspect of Holiness men will not see HIM as HE is.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:
And the knowledge of the holy is understanding”
There is a much today in terms of instruction, and scriptural facts concerning the Christ, but it is not the “knowledge of the holy” which is the true understanding of God. Men who know not of “the HOLY” know not God as they ought for God IS HOLY.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,
whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place,
with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit…”
In our religious world today there are many forms of contriteness and humility but unless these qualities are the RESULT of seeing Him they will always fall short of being the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Watchman Nee remarked in the book “Release of the Spirit” that there are many types of brokenness but the only brokenness of any value is that which brings the release of the Spirit of God into the lives of others. So it is with every facet of the Fruit of the Spirit.
The absolute truth that God is Holy and that God is Love is the revelation of WHO and WHAT HE is in HIMSELF. These are not attributes. They are HIS intrinsic self (HIS NATURE) and as such all that HE does flows from the great substance of HIS BEING. We can no more remove the wonder of HIS Holiness from HIS Love than we can take the element of hydrogen from water and still expect to have water. The church of today has in fact removed that element from HIS expression and because of this it is left with a love that is soulish, tepid, shallow and devoid of the power and the pulse of the Holy Spirit. This will taint the expressions of love that are poured forth from the life of the individual believer. The most blatant result seen today is the lack of LOVE between the members of the Body of Christ. Those who have the fear of the Lord know that they are not free to pick and choose which brother they will interact with for the LOVE of GOD is without partiality. They have a holy sense of the connectedness of the Body of Christ and are able to extend that LOVE of GOD to other believers because they ARE His body. They know the flow of that LOVE for it is based upon HIS Nature not upon a brother’s worthiness or capacity. This is where the breadth and length of the expressions of God’s love is determined by the height of a man’s understanding. If there is no comprehension of the height the love becomes earthly and human in its expression. Without the height men become very comfortable with the status quo of the day, exhortation and reproof are seen as expressions that contradict this “love”, and we become apathetic and comfortable with our current condition.
In the letter to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation we see a God who pronounced judgment upon the Church at Ephesus for leaving their “pre-eminent love”. In the Church at Pergamos we see false teachings were being embraced because God’s Holiness was not presented in their lives. We could expound on the other issues found in each of these locations but the cure for all of them is a people who live in the fear of God. Men who fear God have no interest in the approval of men.
Concerning the breadth of God’s love we must come to see that HIS love in us will love not only every brother who is truly a part of the Body of Christ but also those who are contrary and opposed to all that God is. A love that truly loves its enemies prays for them even to the point of blessing them. The absolute breadth of such a love is truly beyond understanding. This love is beyond the manufacture of men, beyond human ability or desire, and it almost seems to contradict our very understanding of Justice and Truth. The breadth of such a love is revealed in the first martyr as we see Stephen being stoned and asking God to forgive them! It is one thing for us to forgive men for their deeds but it is another thing altogether to ask God to forgive them eternally! It is no wonder Paul prays for us to be “strengthened to lay hold” of such a love.
In our consideration of the length of this love we must grasp the enduring love of God who has gone to great lengths of patience and long-suffering with us in our walk with Him. This same love will produce in us a love that will continue to love in the face of indifference and rejection. This is the love that will enable us to suffer long with a brother who refuses to grow, develop, or overcome the obstacles of life. It is a love that, because of God’s Holiness, will not compromise with a brother’s walk but will ever seek to raise them up to the CALL of God to holiness and righteousness. In this dimension there is a suffering born of the knowledge of God’s provisions and HIS own priestly concern over the life of every one of HIS. This is a love that will go to every length within its sphere to see HIS people rise and walk with their Holy God!
When I began to contemplate the mystery of this fourfold knowing of HIM and HIS LOVE I was impacted by the realization that in earthly things my concepts were only three dimensional. Having enjoyed drafting and drawing buildings and such when I was younger it occurred to me that one of those words used in Ephesians 3:18 was beyond my capacity to know. In studying the Greek words used for all of these dimensions I came across the word that is translated depth. This Greek word is a mariner’s term used to describe the ocean and its depths. As sailors they understood they were merely moving upon its surface but that below that surface there was a whole other realm of life about which they knew nothing. Praise the LORD! It is the same Greek word that Jesus used when He invited the disciples …
“Launch out into the deep,
and let down your nets…”
Can we not hear HIM inviting us to leave the shallow waters of men’s concepts, traditions and teachings and launch ourselves into the depths of HIS BEING where light, glory and LIFE abound? Do we not instinctively sense depths within HIM that surpass knowledge and words, books and sermons, where the Apostle Paul himself declares that he saw and heard things which cannot be uttered? These are things which men cannot articulate for they are beyond the speech of men, beyond the reach of the human mind and are only shown to those who have made holiness of life and purity of heart their pursuit.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:
for the Spirit searcheth all things,
yea, the deep things of God”
My prayer is that together we will explore the unfathomable dimensions of His Love, for to love Him is to know Him and to know Him is to love Him.