I just can’t seem to shake the thought of the “extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love” (Ephesian 3:18 The Message)… which is probably a good thing… wouldn’t you agree? I kept finding myself talking about it to my wife yesterday and woke up this morning with it fresh on my mind!
I mean just think about it… A love that according to a modern definition of the word “extravagant,” exceeds the bounds of natural reason. It is a type of love that goes far beyond what we deserve to receive and as per the world’s standards, is much more than is necessary or wise. Come on now, doesn’t that do something to you? That’s the kind of love that Jesus has for you and me. It is also the kind of love that we can walk in as well, as we allow His grace to empower us and thereby overcome whatever it is in us at any given time that might make us think that the potential receiver of that kind of love isn’t worthy of it!
I will admit that I have had to ask for God’s grace in order to forgive and love people who have done some awful things toward my wife and I in her time of need. I couldn’t make it, if it had not been for His grace to help me over the total surprise, frustration and anger of the incidents. But that is what the “extravagant dimensions” of His love is all about!
But... this “extravagance” doesn’t just fall out of the sky onto us! We have to diligently seek it out, believe it is for us and then step out in faith and use it! I was reading from Mark 11:22-24 yesterday and again this morning and was amazed to see how many times the word “SHALL” is used. If you recall, this portion of scriptures tells of a time when Jesus was teaching His disciples to “say unto this mountain, be thou removed and cast into the sea; and SHALL not doubt in his heart, but SHALL believe that those things which he saith SHALL come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11:23 KJV)
In the previous verse, Jesus literally labelled this kind of faith-filled action as “the faith of God.” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible) Or as another translation I once read described it as: “The God kind of faith.” When you think about it… this was the way that God created the world in the first place… by speaking out His will into the “void and darkness” (Genesis 1:1-31 KJV) and it came to be! You see, Papa God wanted something to happen so He had to take some action.
In Mark 11:22-24 we find the word “SHALL” used six times. According to Dictionary.com “SHALL” is an action word. It is a verb used in the present singular first person that gives a command for someone to “plan to, intend to, expect to, must do, or are obliged to do.” In other words, in these verses Jesus is telling us over and over again, that in order to walk in and/or receive the blessings of God and His Word, there are certain actions that we have to take!
It doesn’t just happen… we have to acknowledge the truth of God’s Word by working it! Back in the 1980’s I served under an older Pastor who told me that ministry is spelled “W-O-R-K!” Which to me meant that I had to put feet to my visions, plans and great ministry goals. Planning is great, but there comes a time when you’ve got to step out and DO the steps of the plan in order to see the fruition of whatever it is that you are attempting to do!
The same can be said about walking in the “extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.” You just can’t read about it and talk about it… You’ve got to step out (usually in some degree of faith) and apply it with those you interact with on a daily basis. The Apostle of Love instructs us in I John 1:18 by saying: “Dear children, we must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words.” (God’s Word ©) Once again, next to observing and working with the painful changes that have been occurring in my wife due to the effects of Alzheimer’s, dealing with people’s empty words and lack of actions has been one of the toughest battles that I have had to deal with over the last 10 years of this journey.
So what SHALL it be for you? Will it be empty words (that lead to an empty heart) or actions that open up the door to “the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love” (and a swelling heart filled with the fullness of God)? What steps (or SHALLS) will you commence to do today toward those individuals who are part of your lives?
Have a great weekend! It looks like our weather should be great out here. I’m hoping to mow the lawns and get the fencing around my raised bed vegetable garden. Let me know your thoughts on “the extravagant dimensions of Christ love” working in and through you… and then keep asking yourself… “What actions am I expecting to take in order to spread ‘the extravagant dimensions of Christ love,’ today?”