Devote Yourself to Knowing Christ
The main verse for this series of posts is Ephesians 6.24, “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” In preaching on Christ Community’s mission statement one month ago, I addressed this verse in the following statement:
“I think that this, incorruptible love for Jesus Christ, is the great aim of Ephesians. It is to be the legacy of every church, a love for Christ that refuses to be corrupted or corroded by the love for anything else that is not loved for Christ’s sake. This is how Augustine put it, “He loves thee too little who loves anything together with thee, which he loves not for thy sake.” We call this supremely treasuring Christ! This is Paul’s closing desire for all the Ephesian churches; the Spirit’s for every church, an unrivaled love for and, consequently, supreme valuation of Jesus Christ.”
The Battle Persists
To be true to the verse, we must be honest with ourselves. As written above, every Christian has an incorruptible love for Jesus Christ and, yet, the battle persists. We must deal with the fact of His grace by which He sustains our love and the fact of our weakness in loving Him as we ought. But Paul doesn’t leave us without a remedy to this occasionally experiential shortcoming.
The Remedy: Christ Dwelling in Our Hearts
It is given in Ephesians 3.17-19. Paul prays “that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” What is his remedy? We are seeking to be more and more rooted and grounded in love, so what must we have? Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith–we need Christ inhabiting and eating up space in the very fountain of our being. Now there is something that precedes this and there is an aim in it.
God’s Work, Our Work
It is preceded by a collaborative effort between the Father and the Spirit to strengthen you inwardly–the Father granting and the Spirit rejoicing to support our weakness with divine strength (Ephesians 3.14-16). The purposed and accomplished effect of this divine work is–incredibly–the exaltation of Christ in our hearts (Ephesians 3.17)! Now why? To what end? That we may now begin to span breadths, press into lengths, climb heights, and plumb depths of Christ’s love that are infinitely broad and long and high and deep (Ephesians 3.18-19). It is that we may now begin to know what will take forever to know, the love of Christ! It is such and so great that it necessitates continual supplies of divine strength!
Knowing to be Growing in Love
My wife and I wanted all boys. We had a boy, Luke. But, as God would have it, he was followed by a little girl, Kate. Admittedly, we did fret for a while. We knew boys. We didn’t know girls. But a recent conversation, Kate nearly a year old, exposed something of the truth I want to convey here—while we certainly loved her from conception, and while that love has quite often been tested and refined, as we have gotten to know her, our love for her has grown.
But Kate did not love us first. Kate does not manifest infinite and perfect love. While she has capacities to receive infinite love, she is not the reservoir which can fill and overflow it. This is all Christ! And as we come to know Him and His love by degrees, we too increase in our love for Him. He begins to clean house in our hearts. He practically presses out every rival love as chief and is exalted in that place.
Sum: Devote Yourself to Knowing Christ
What does it all amount to? What is the remedy being suggested?
Remedy #1 for the improvement of our love for Christ is prayer—prayer to the Father that by the Spirit we would be strengthened in our hearts for an ever greater communion with Jesus Christ and, thereby, an increasing knowledge of His infinite love towards us. It only makes sense that to practice an incorruptible love for Christ, Christ must practically reign supreme in our hearts. So ask, seek, knock for this; give yourself to doing the hard but critical work of studying to taste and see more and more of Christ; do not settle for little knowledge of Him and His love—span, press, climb, plumb and, after every discovery of it, rejoice still more that there are yet infinite plies remaining to venture. By His grace, simply devote yourself to knowing Christ and His love more than any other thing, and your love for Him will be practically incorruptible.