I am sitting this morning once again hearing the sound of the crows that are creating a terrible noise in the trees. They are drowning out the beautiful sound of the singing from the birds who were created to do so. The crows outside my window think they can sing but they cannot. They occupy the trees thinking they own them but they don’t. When they arrive into the trees the other birds fly away. They are arrogant, dominant and I think that I might have to study a reason why they exist as I cannot think of one.
A crow wanted to know where the centre of the universe was. He landed on the highest tree he could find and looked to the horizon on his left and on his right; each was the same distance apart. Just to be sure, he flew further and landed on another tall tree and again looked at the distant horizons on his left and right. Again, they were equidistant. On the third tree, he looked around then said to himself, “Oh, I see, I am the centre of the universe!”
The lesson? Don’t be a crow!
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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.” Ephesians 3: 17-19
Let’s read the Message version: “And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
Paul prays that we might have power. Yes! We need more power to do more. Power for healings, transformations, progressions, growth, words go on and we dream of more.
But we may have missed it in our attempt to find the central point of the universe. It is not about being more powerful. It is not about being seen as the central figure. But it is about grasping, comprehending, perceiving, learning, reaching, testing, plumbing to the depths and rising to the heights in discovering the love of Christ.
Yesterday a friend sent me a podcast link to a Bible teacher who many will in charismatic/Pentecostal know. An old man now carrying what seems to be the most important message that of Agape. After 50 years of ministry he received a word from God that changed the axis of his life. I share it because it is powerfully beautiful.
You know the words to the song.
You know the song.
You can hear the music.
But you don’t know how to dance.
Let’s quickly go back to the words of Paul, “…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. Can you see the imagery? Can you see the movement of the body, the dance? Can you see the desire to express what has been found but to also discover more? The love of Christ!
Are we still dancing?
When God showed Abram the land he would live in and where he would receive blessing upon blessing, He also gave him a command. “Go walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” (Gen 13:17)
Today God is calling us to explore the length and breadth, the height and depth of the love of Christ. To walk in it and to even dance.
But see something else. The discovery of this love is not through a single individualistic pilgrimage. It is with others. Paul says: “you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus” or “together with all the Lord’s holy people”.
To learn the love of Christ is to do that in community and through people. We will only ever know this love by expressing that love. The unconditional, non-judgmental, selfless, sacrificial love within community is where we will know the love of Christ. Does that go wrong? Of course it does. Throughout the day there are countless moments when we face the choice to know the love of Christ in how we respond to people (who are at times not easy to like).
Did it go wrong for the people Paul was writing to? Yes!
The Church at Ephesus became well known for being good people in that they did good works. They were charitable people, helping the poor, foodbanks and other community outreaches. They had gone through a lot of suffering and persecution for their faith. But they persevered and they endured hardships for Christ. They were mature, seasoned, faithful followers of Christ. But …!
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first” (Revelation 2:4 NLT)
Learning the love of Christ cannot be done without the love for people. If our love for others dies so does our love for Him.
Perhaps we need to learn to dance again.