Ephesians 3: 17-19
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.
1 John 4: 7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
As a child in Sunday school I fondly remember singing choruses such as ‘Wide, Wide as the Ocean’, ‘Deep and Wide’, ‘Jesus Loves Me This I Know’ and ‘Jesus Love is Very Wonderful’ – all, of course, with corresponding actions.
As much as I love these choruses, sometimes the songs we sing can sentimentalise or trivialise the immensity and extent of the love that God has for us. In a world that throws the word “love” around so casually and flippantly, it’s difficult to fully comprehend or grasp what God’s love really looks like. God’s love went so much further than mere words or sentiments – it was visible and active. He sent His only son into our hostile world where He would die for us. Could there ever be a greater demonstration of love than this?
That’s why Paul says that this love ‘surpasses knowledge’. We simply can’t get our finite minds around such infinite love. And yet, we can contemplate it and meditate on it, praying that somehow it would move beyond mere intellectual understanding and sink deeply into our hearts.
You are loved. You may not feel it, you may not experience it tangibly, you may not even think you deserve it - but you are loved. Deeply. Dearly. Passionately. Actively. Demonstrably. You are loved to death.
Whatever is going on in your life right now, take a few moments to wallow and bask in the wonderful love of God. Soak it in. Let it enfold you. Allow it to embrace you. Even say it out loud: “I am loved by God.”
This is a season when we can become overwhelmed with busyness and even overcome with sadness. While everyone seems to be celebrating in the festive spirit, we may be conscious of deep loss, hidden pain, impending test results, relationship heartache, ongoing work issues and inner turmoil. We smile but it’s shallow, we celebrate but it’s fake, our social calendar is full but our souls feel empty.
Just as God came near on that first Christmas, know that He draws especially close to you right now, whatever your circumstances, however you are feeling. You don’t have to pretend around Him. He loves you right now just as you are, with all that you’re carrying, all that you’re experiencing. You are loved.
Please continue to pray for Ivan Alcorn and Jane Quinn as they journey cancer through this Christmas season. (For more details see Tuesday’s devotion.) We would encourage you to consider taking time to fast for a day, or even one meal, to add increased focus to your prayers. This is one simple way we can share the love we have received with others.