Staying in God’s Love

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude 1:20-21

The Bible instructs us to keep ourselves in God’s love. I picture God’s love as a waterfall that continues to be poured out, and our job is to stay under it.

But how do we keep ourselves in God’s love?

I believe there are two parts to remaining in God’s love that are necessary. One without the other won’t work. Like an epoxy glue, both of these parts must mix together to establish an unbreakable bond.

First, we must know God’s love. This is about trusting that God is love. We must believe that God’s love for us is not based on our performance or our worthiness but based on His own character. God loves because He is love. His love for us cannot be ruined by our sinful actions. Our sin is not stronger than His grace.

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.

Psalm 52:6

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…

C0lossians 3:12

Secondly, we must experience God’s love. It is not enough just to know that God loves us. We need to experience that love. Sometimes we can feel God’s love pouring out on us in private moments of prayer or in worship. Sometimes we experience it through His provision or His perfect timing. Other times we experience it through people who love us well. Experiencing God’s love can’t be a one time thing. It has to be a daily lifestyle of experiencing and receiving the love God has for us.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:5

If we know the love of God but don’t put ourselves in a place to experience His love, then our belief that we are loved will erode when the storms of life come. And if we only have experiences of the love of God without a foundational knowledge of His love rooted in His nature, then when the experiences stop the doubts will start.

Both knowledge and experience of God’s love are necessary to remain under that waterfall of His love that continually pours out. When we know we are loved by God and we experience His love for us, an unbreakable bond is established that can withstand whatever life throws at us.

Ephesian Prayer (Part 2)

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians continues:

being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:17-21

Paul has been praying that the Father would take some power out of His storehouse of glorious riches and distribute it to followers of Jesus through the Holy Spirit for their inner strengthening. This is a strengthening that would allow Christ to dwell on the throne of their hearts in at atmosphere of faith.

Now Paul transitions to the connections between power and love. Because they’ve already surrendered their lives to Jesus, they are now rooted and established (or grounded) in love. The foundation of their house has been laid and the material used was love. The starting line of their journey of faith has the letters L – O – V – E spray-painted across it. The grace and love of the Father is the foundation of their life in Christ.

Yet, what we learn from Paul’s prayer is that there is more! This power that Paul is asking the Father to release will actually empower them to grasp or comprehend something that is incomprehensible. You see, the love of Christ isn’t just the foundation of the mansion; it’s also the wide corridors, the long hallways, the deep cellar, the multi-story high ceiling. His love is not only the beginning, but it’s also the end and everything in-between. The love of Christ is our starting line, it’s what sustains us on the journey, and it’s what is waiting for us at the finish. This kind of love is so expansive that it “surpasses knowledge.” The only way “to know this love that surpasses knowledge” is with a download of the supernatural power of God.

The beautiful thing is that as the Father’s power gets poured out on us, we begin, little by little, to comprehend this incomprehensible love. And as we do, we begin to get filled from the inside out with “all the fullness of God.” A couple chapters later Paul will remind them of this as he gives the Ephesian Christians the command to “be filled with the Spirit”(Ephesians 5:18).

Both this prayer to be filled with the fullness of God and the command to be filled with the Spirit are given to Christians who already have the Spirit. In other words, there is always more of God, more of the Spirit, to experience. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a liquid or a force, so it’s not like we get “more” of Him over time. What happens is that He gets more of us. Like a fragrant incense filling every room of the house, He begins to pervade every part of us. As we surrender every room of our life to Him, rooms that have already been purchased by Christ, the Spirit fills them with more and more of the characteristics of Christ, the fullness of God.

When the Spirit comes to fill us, he brings with him all the fullness of God, causing an overflow from the inside out. That’s why Paul writes next, “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.” Paul is asking that the Ephesians be filled with the full measure of God and knows that, when God comes to fill His people with His Spirit, there is no limit to what can happen. God can do more in and through filled Christians than we can even imagine.

And when He does, all the glory goes back to Him. It’s not about the Christians that are used so powerfully but about the God who, in His generosity and love, was so pleased to use them. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.