Thursday, March 3, 2016

Wisdom of God Made Known

Deep and wide, deep and wide; there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.  It is a song that most of us sang as children, most always with hand gestures became more difficult the faster you sang the song.  And you always sang the song faster, then sometimes slowed down.

Deep and wide is the only verse.  You can hum in place of words, but deep and wide is the only verse, but it is enough.  You can hum it on the way home if you want.  Let the words accompany you all week.

There is a joy that perhaps only preachers know, maybe a few others.  It is a joy that few would venture into knowingly.  It is a place where all that I can say is that I am in over my head.

That place is the mystery of God.  I can preach predestination and generally make sense of this intangible and sometimes controversial topic. 

I can talk about being one in Christ and sing “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,” and know that what I couldn’t convey in my message, the words of the song will complete.  Throw in Blest Be the Tie That Binds and They’ll Know We Are Christians and I might not even need to preach at all.  The words and melody bring the message.

But to venture into the mystery and revelations of God is another matter.  We dabbled a little bit into this last weekFor by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast. 

We have accepted this wonderful thing called grace as the gift of God in which we do not even make a modicum of contribution; but do we also understand that God gave each of us a measure of faith so that even our belief is a gift from God.

That does not make sense to our human minds.  God gave each of us faith, really?

He gives us the gift and the belief by which we receive the gift—are you kidding me?

Salvation and the faith to believe and receive the gift all come from God?  Who does he think he is to do all of this?

There is an enemy in the world that so wants to leverage our human nature and discount the immeasurable love that comes in the divine nature of God that we know in Christ.  We must not listen to him.

For God’s love that we know in Christ Jesus is longer and higher, deeper and wider than we can imagine, much less comprehend.

In Christ and in faith in Christ we may come before God.

How?  Because Christ himself lives in our hearts!  We have let go of everything that we think we must control and let Christ himself take our lives as his own.

That’s not a bad exchange considering that he gave his life for us, so now he lives in us.  Christ is elsewhere described as the firstborn among us, his brothers and sisters.

But how can God and sinful man be friends much less siblings?  Only by letting Christ be our new nature.           
But can that really happen while we live in these carnal vessels?  While we walk this earth can Christ fully live in us?

Welcome to mystery and revelation.  Welcome to living in between God’s thoughtsand ways being higher than ours but having been given the mind of Christ.

How are we supposed to navigate those waters?

Paul says rooted and established in love, his prayer is that the Ephesians— and we—can grasp how truly incomprehensible that God’s love is.  Understand that Paul is praying for us to take an irresolvable dichotomy and make it a paradox of assurance.

Paul incrementally brings us to this point.  First, through the gospel all peoples of the world may join God’s chosen people.  God is desiring all to know his love.

Next the apostle wants us to realize what he calls the unsearchable riches of Christ.  That man should know the heart of God may have seem only philosophy to this point, but we are called to know this as truth.  It is the universal truth that God longs to share his heart with us.

Finally, Paul writes that now through the church the all encompassing wisdom of God will be known to all in heaven and on earth.  The church is working here on earth but its work proclaims the glory and wisdom of God to all.

Paul then prays for the Ephesians in the context of this letter.

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.

Deep and wide, deep and wide; there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Come thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing they grace; steams of mercy, never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise.

Our music knows the mystery of God.  Our music reveals to our hearts what sometimes our minds resist.

There is neither height nor depth that is beyond the reach of God’s love.  There is no distance too far for the love of God to grasp.  There is no expiration date on God’s love.

There is nothing that we have done that God cannot take away.  There is no stain too tough for him to remove.  There is no heart to hardened for him to melt with his mercy.

God wants you to live in his presence, as his child, as a brother or sister to Christ.

The revelation of God is that his love is for all and the church is the means by which not only those on earth but all with power and authority anywhere will know that God is love.

God loves us.

Knowing this, and being filled with this richness of love that we have in Christ, we are charged to make known the wisdom of God.

Wisdom that says, “Love wins.”

Wisdom that says, “Love conquers all."

Wisdom that says, “The greatest of these is love.”

Wisdom that says you were created to live in and enjoy the presence of God.  God wants you to enjoy him very much.

Wisdom that gives you eyes to see the world.

God is not an old man with a lightning bolt waiting to zap you the next time you do something wrong.  God is love and his reach extends beyond anything that he has created.  You cannot outrun the love of God.

You cannot sink to such depths that God cannot rescue you.

You cannot travel such a distance that God’s love will not restore you.

Even in an expanding universe, you cannot get away from the love of God.  Did you ever stop to think that if the universe is expanding, just what is it expanding into?  Now there’s a mystery for you.

The mystery of God that is revealed to us in Christ is no surprise.  He has never stopped loving us and never will.

Now that is a message of assurance for sure, but we are his disciples and it’s not all about us.  So what are we to do?

Is there a call to action included in this message?  I think so.

We who know God through Christ and are filled with his glorious riches are to go into the world and meet people where they are.  The wisdom of God is to be made known by the church.

This message that we have received and that we rejoice in is to be shared with the world, no matter how far from God anyone seems to be.

Now you might get rejected or laughed at or yelled at, but absent putting yourself in physical danger; we are to take this good news to those who are lost.

Some might even be called to ignore that part about physical danger.  Those directions will come directly from the Lord and not from me.

And even when we are rejected with our message of good news, we know that the love of God reaches places that we cannot touch.

We know the depth and breadth of God’s love goes beyond our reach, but we are called to make known the wisdom of God that we know in the gospel.

This is the call and the mission of the church through every generation of this age.  This is how we bring glory to God and the truth to the world.

This is how we live between mystery and revelation; proclaiming the good news and knowing that God’s love has no limits.

Deep and wide, deep and wide; there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.


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