I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, 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.
Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)
My husband proposed to me on Christmas Eve. His large family, including some brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and other relations, were crowded into his mother’s small living room. Everyone was busily opening and exchanging gifts. Paper and ribbons were flying in every direction. Then, from behind the tree, my husband pulled out an over-sized box, carefully wrapped and decorated. “For me?” I thought. How sweet. “How am I ever going to get whatever was in that box in my car?” was my next thought.
I unwrapped, I mean I tore the paper off, and ripped open the box. “What is that?” I said out loud. Another carefully wrapped box was inside the big box; it even had a bow. I tore the paper from that box, ripped it open and inside was…another box, carefully wrapped and decorated! I tore the paper off three more boxes and in the final box was a tiny velvet box. My heart was pounding, the room went still, and as I flipped the lid off the box, my husband whispered, “will you marry me?” Of course, I said yes, and the room went wild.
When I first saw the big box, I couldn’t imagine what was inside. My imagination flooded with possibilities and questions. What’s in this amazing box? What great gift had my husband found? How did he know what I wanted, what I dreamed of?
Similar questions and thoughts must have gone through the minds of the people when they met Jesus. Who is this man? How is he able to do such miraculous things? Where does he find such wisdom? Can he save us?
The people didn’t recognize the savior that stood in their midst. They were looking for a warrior. A king that would restore Jerusalem to its former stature and right all of the wrongs done by outsiders. They put Jesus, the Messiah, in a box. Shaped him and formed him into the savior they wanted and expected, not the one who would come and restore their relationship with God by paying the ultimate price.
I do that with God myself. I shaped him into the God I expect Him to be because of who I am instead of who He is. Because of my past, I sometimes get trapped into believing He couldn’t love me like other people. Because I have sin that I constantly have to beg forgiveness for, I think He couldn’t love me. “I’m never going to get this right;” I say to myself. “God probably does care about me, but He couldn’t deeply love me,” I believe. I am guilty of measuring God’s love according to my standards, not His.
I put Him in a box.
These are the lies the enemy wants us to believe.
Here’s the truth. God loves us, no matter what our past looks like. He loves us despite our sin. In fact, he loves us so much that He sent Jesus, whom no one recognized at the time, to die for our sins so that we could know how much we are loved. Here’s another truth, His love for us is wide, long, high and deep and everlasting. His love cannot be put in a box. If it could be, just like the engagement box of mine, every time we opened the box and peered inside, there would be another box, wrapped and ready for us to experience another amazing attribute of His love. Once you have lived in that love, you can open another box and go deeper and experience even more of God’s love. And His love keeps going and going, bigger and bigger than we can ever imagine. It is not a people-sized love; it is God-sized love, bigger than any box.
You must not look at God’s love through the lens of your experience. God’s love is limitless. We do not have to work for it, nor can we lose it. In His grace, His gift, he loves us so much that He offers salvation to anyone who wants to open the box.
So, open the box, unwrap it, and live loved.
Father, thank you for the love you lavish on your children. Yours is a love we can never fully understand and grasp, but the evidence of that love surrounds us. Help us to realize how deep and wide your love is and help us to live as loved children, without fear, with hope, without condemnation, with joy. Help us to live loved.