We are beginning a new series with Pastor Richard Harris this week at Upstream Home Churches called ‘God’s Surpassing Love’. And for this message to be effective, you’re going to have to get real with yourself because mental acceptance is not enough. You might say in your mind ‘God loves me’, but do you really feel it and walk around in your daily life and relate to the Lord as if He loves you unconditionally? Or, do you relate to Him like you relate to everyone else in your life?
To change our thinking, we will have to get intentional. We’ll have to let God’s word transform us.
This week we are digging down deep into the idea of being 'Rooted in Love'. Over the next few weeks, there are three points which Richard will cover. Our first point is this:
God wants you to know His love.
I truly believe that the majority of people in our world do not really feel loved? We live in a performance-based, conditional world and our minds are so trained in that system that it’s hard for us to actually believe and truly grasp that God loves us unconditionally. The way we live out and think about love is conditional. Our minds have been conditioned to that way of thinking, which is one of the many reasons the Bible encourages us to renew our minds!
So, if this series is going to transform you at all, we are going to have to go deeper, way deeper, than head-knowledge. There is a higher truth and that is, God loves us fully, completely and unconditionally. This is incredible, hard to image news. But it’s true.
You might be thinking, ‘yeah yeah, I know God loves me, I’ve heard it a million times’. Well, that might just be the problem right there. I want us to look at the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter 3 verses 14-19: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Paul is praying that these people would comprehend the love of God. Why? That they may be ‘filled with all the fulness of God’. God wants you to know His love for you, so that you can be filled with Him. The desire of the Holy Spirit is expressed right here in this passage. Now, it’s not possible for us human beings to fully comprehend God in our brains. They’re just too small, no offence! And the Greek word used for ‘knowledge’ in this passage is an experiential knowledge, the way Adam ‘knew’ his wife, Eve. So, we need to push beyond head-knowledge here.
It’s interesting that Paul says that when we ‘know’ the love of God, the more we comprehend it, the more we are filled with His fulness. 1 John 4:16 says something similar: And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
Wow! Can it be that simple? It really is all about God’s love. But, how do we comprehend it? Why is it so hard for us?
We struggle with knowing and living in the love of God because we have no frame of reference in this world. We talk about love, sing about it, read about it, but all these love ideas, songs, poems, movies, are not God’s kind of love. All those things are based on conditional love. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that almost all love on earth is conditional. Very occasionally, we might experience unconditional love from another human being, but 99.9% of the time on this earth, love is conditional. When you really break it down, that’s what it comes to.
Well that makes it really hard for us as human beings to comprehend and accept that we are loved, unconditionally. We, as humans, will always want to ‘earn’ love. Why? Because we need to feel we are worthy. We have a desire to prove ourselves, to achieve. And so, there’s only one way that we can truly ‘know’ God’s kind of love.
We must experience God’s love to know it. For Paul’s prayer to come to pass we have to go beyond head knowledge. In verse 17, he prays that we would be rooted and grounded in love and that we’d know it past knowledge.
What do roots do? The roots are where the tree is centred. It’s also where it’s established. It’s the beginning point of that tree’s life.
Do you remember when you were first born again, when you first experienced God’s love, the love of Jesus in your heart? It was amazing, wasn’t it. I know it was because I’ve experienced it too. Did you know that God doesn’t want you to grow as a Christian, to the point that you forget your first encounter with Him and what that felt like.
All life comes from that original experience of knowing God’s love and forgiveness. He wants you to be established, fixed, centred on His love. Roots are what draw life and nutrients, so when Paul prays this, he’s saying ‘I want you so focused on God’s love that you’re immovable, so that you can truly grow.’ God wants you to be fixated on His love for you. I truly believe that if we fix our hearts and minds on the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts, that we will change our lives and the world around us.
Join us again next week as we dig deeper into how we can really know and experience God’s love in a powerful and life-changing way.
Watch a snippet from Richard's teaching to the Upstream Home Churches here: