Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 3:1-21 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In Ephesians 3:18, Paul expresses the wish that we “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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Each Monday morning I go and tell a story to grade schoolers near my church. My favorite class to visit is the kindergarteners. I like to get their reactions and challenge them to think abstractly (something that this age group struggles with mightily).
A few weeks ago I asked them a series of questions: 1) How many is blue? 2) How tall is air? 3) How much does love weigh? You know, really important questions.
Their answers cracked me up. One shot his hand up to the first question and said, “My favorite color is blue, but I don’t know how many that is.” Another one said as a response to question 2, “My uncle is really really tall. Maybe taller than you.” My favorite response was from one child (who shall remain nameless) who said in response to question 3, “Sometimes my mom cries when she gets on the scale to weigh herself.”
In Ephesians 3:18, Paul desires the impossible. How can any human grasp the dimensions of God’s love and grace? How can God’s beauty and attributes be quantified? How can they be understood. I know that we can grow in knowledge, for sure. But to quantify or understand God’s character fully would be to limit the limitless.
Again, we get glimpses. But we don’t understand, not even remotely. How can you understand the most powerful being in the universe allowing His own creation to brutalize Him, mock Him, strip Him naked, and nail Him to a cross? This kind of love is not only unquantifiable, it’s nonsensical to human beings. Self-sacrificing love, the crucifixion, is God’s ultimate plan to display His power and love to humanity. The central figure in the power seat of the book of Revelation is a slaughtered Lamb. For humanity to fully understand this is the same as asking a kindergartner to weigh the color blue. It’s not something that we can comprehend. We get glimpses, we see a little—through a glass darkly—but to grasp it and get a handle on it is not something we can fully muster. Not even with a lifetime of study.
Our proper response to God’s love, of course, is not to grasp it, put it in a box, or attempt to tame or domesticate it. Our proper response is to let it flood our inner being and lead us into deep wonder and worship. If we claim to worship a being that can be understood and grasped, we might be worshiping, but the being we are worshiping is a god made in our own image.
Recalibrate: Share with someone you know, another believer, a part of God’s character/person/ways that you don’t fully grasp. Ask them if there’s anything they have learned about God that they haven’t fully grasped.
Respond: What is a dimension of God that you can’t fully grasp. Take some time to appreciate what you can’t understand and worship God because of it.
Research: Read this theological reflection on wonder.
Remember: “The heavenly world will know God’s wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Make time to watch this video with your little one. I love how Little Nutbrown Hare tells Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him. Big Nutbrown Hare’s answer is always to show how he loves Little Nutbrown Hare so much more. Our God is a God of so much more. More love for humankind than we will ever know. Rest in that thought; you are immensely loved.
Every week, we get the chance to gather with all of our church family. As you think about the people you go to church with, who stands out as a really caring, lovely person who makes you feel heard and seen and understood? Take time to write them a note you can give them this week, by mail, or in person to thank them for making sure you feel included and cared for by someone outside of your own family. Take time to pray for that person today and ask God to bless them this week!
What would you do if you saw someone getting bullied? Would you talk to an adult? Would you just ignore them? Would you join in? It’s hard for us to see things like this happen. We don’t want to get involved, but we also feel bad for the person getting picked on. One thing I have my students do is write me anonymous notes if they see something they would like to chat about. Next time you see a situation that you aren’t sure what to do about, write a little note to a teacher or parent. I’m sure they’ll be able to help you and figure things out.
When I stop to think about how the Creator of the Universe loves me—me and all of my flaws and mess ups, in the times I push back on Him and neglect time with Him—I am left feeling in awe. He is the source and creator of love. There’s a song by Mosaic MSC called “Maker of the Heavens” and its lyrics immediately came to mind when I read this verse:
Passion moved Your heart to save my soul
The universe declares Your love for us
The splendor of Your glory came from heaven
The proof of God pursuing us with love
How great is Your love, my soul surrenders
To who You are and, all You’ve done
I’ll lift my praises, to You, my Savior
For who You are and, all You've done
For five minutes, I challenge you to be still and think about His love. Then write down a response to God and how you feel about His love for you.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.