Monday, May 23, 2011

Filled with the Fullness of God

I was thinking yesterday about the love of God, and how I really have to believe in His love before I can ever trust Him and repent of my hatred and rebellion against Him. I was thinking how true it is that fear has never led me to repent, only reflecting on God's kindness toward me has. And I thought how the world sits already under condemnation, yet it is through the love of God embodied in Christ that God has chosen to call mankind to repentance.

And this morning I found these words of Brennan Manning in my inbox:
“The saved sinner is prostrate in adoration, lost in wonder and praise.  He knows repentance is not what we do in order to earn forgiveness; it is what we do because we have been forgiven.  It serves as an expression of gratitude rather than an effort to earn forgiveness.  Thus the sequence of forgiveness and then repentance, rather than repentance and then forgiveness is crucial for understanding the gospel of grace”
Which brought me back to yesterday evening's church service in which we questioned what it means to be "filled with the fullness of God", and learned from this prayer of the apostle Paul that the key to the fullness of Christian life is the ever deepening knowledge and heart-understanding of the love of Christ:
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."  Ephesians 3: 15-19 (emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? We need God's own strength to comprehend God's love! And the strength from God to love comes from being rooted and grounded in love. And so I pray as Paul did for the strength to comprehend this incomprehensible love.

If there's one thing I know for certain, it's that with God's love and the assurance it provides I could face all things and say and do the hardest of things. If and when I really believe with every fiber of my being that He loves me, I can muster courage to love others. I can reach out my hand and risk being bitten, and, bitten, reach out again.

Sheltered by His love I can weather storms, tragedies, and onslaughts of criticism. From the safety of His embrace, I can love and serve, even in the face of unkindness, cruelty, and rejection. I can rest in God's acceptance when the world and even my fellow Christians reject me.
When I am confident of His love I can hazard making mistakes, and readily own up to them too.
In the certainty of His love for me, I can deny myself and take up my cross of hardship with confidence,
knowing that my "self" is safe in His hands.
Yes, all I need for this life and the life to come is to comprehend His incomprehensible love.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:31-39 (emphasis mine)

It makes the plainest of sense that the fullness of God comes to a soul only through the understanding of the greatest revelation of His love - the love expressed in the sacrifice of Christ for us.

God grant me strength to believe in and comprehend your love for me.

3 comments:

countingmyblessings said...

Amen!! Thanks Laurie!!

Lobbans said...

Can't tell you how timely your post has been - thank you, Laurie.

WhiteStone said...

I read your post carefully, thoughtfully and with much appreciation. Then...at the end...I thought back to my own first vision of God's love. As a child of four, going on five, hearing that little ditty, "Jesus loves me." I hadn't a clue as to who Jesus was as I had never been to church. And yet I knew in my heart (a knowing that was put there by God) that if Jesus loved me, well, then, I wanted to love him right back. God placed in my heart at that tender age a picture of Himself as "loving even me".
P.S. I love the scriptures you used today. They are some of my (many) favorites.