How wide and long and high and deep
Many Christians have heard the Epiphany accounts of the words and works of Jesus before. They are the same accounts that people heard one year ago, or three years ago, or many years ago in Sunday school and catechism class. Is there anything a preacher can do to help people grasp the appropriation and application of the lessons more deeply?
I have been to the Grand Canyon before. It looks the same every time I see it. Is there anything I can do to fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep it is? Tour operators suggest hiking or riding a horse up and down its trails. That way you get to see many of the details in different lights and from different perspectives. You sure get a better sense of its scale that way.
When it comes to the Grand Canyon, you can hike all you want, but there is nothing quite as thrilling as taking a helicopter ride over the edge, down, around, and back up again. There are moments on that trip that take your breath away.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-24)
According to this section of Ephesians, the love of Christ is like that. It surpasses knowledge. We have sins that afflict and worry us in ways that go beyond knowledge. They can lead us to the depths of despair. But through faith, God takes us on a thrilling helicopter ride where we can see how Christ’s love cuts through hearts of stone and takes our breath away.
Paul’s prayer for all believers can be our prayer as well, that we may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.