“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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 (Ephesians 3:14-19).”
In an episode of the hit drama “Touched by Angel”, Jason is a young African-American gangbanger who cares for no one and who thinks no one cares for him. He doesn’t expect to live to see adulthood.
Then he steals a car and is sent to a juvenile facility. It’s here that he encounters Monica, Andrew, and Tess, who are running an experimental program for children with inmates as helpers.
What Jason doesn’t know is that the three are angels sent by God to demonstrate His love to them. God wants to give Jason some hope, and a second chance.
Jason is assigned to work with a little girl with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair named Kelley. As he helps this child, he not only learns that he is a gifted caregiver, but also that he has developed a love for her.
Just as Jason seems to be making some progress, he runs away. Tess says he did so because he doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that for the first time in his life, he feels something for someone.
Monica goes looking for Jason, and finds him behind the wheek of a Ferrarri in a car dealership. Jason, an avid fan of cars, intends to take the car for a joy ride.
Monica reveals herself to Jason as what she is, an angel sent by God on Jason’s behalf. She tells him that God loves him.
Jason tells Monica that he doesn’t want anyone’s love. He’s not worth the trouble.
Monica asks Jason where he thinks he is going to go in the Ferrari. It will take him nowhere, and even is a car like that he won’t be able to outrun God. Then she disappears.
Jason returns to the juvenile facility and renews his relationship with Kelly. Not only that, he reconciles with his mother and tells her he loves her.
Jason is on his way to healing as a person. He has begun to feel loved by God, and now has the capacity to give love to others.
Love is poweful. In has landmark new book on Christianity and culture, “To Change the World”. University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter discusses the nature of this power.
Hunter writes of the coercive nature of power, and the stand of certain Christians who avoid power and instead adopt a stance of “powerlessness”. Hunter notes that the believers integration in this world makes engaging power unavoidable.
“Even love itself has force”, he says,”for it draws and compels people in ways that they may not desire in themselves.” Jason encountered the love of the Hound of Heaven.
In his heart were the words of poet Francis Thompson:
I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter…
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.
Michael Francis, moderator of “Apologetics and Sacred Scipture”, explains the meaning of the last line. “It essentially means,’you run off those who love you’ “, he says.
The apostle Paul discovered the power of love. He wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
Until recently, I think I misunderstoond this verse. I thought was emphasizing his understanding of Christ’s love for the world which drove him to share the gospel.
Now I believe he is explaining that the love He himself had experienced from Christ was moving him to action. He was running from God at one point, but had met the Hound of Heaven.
In the last week I have made a discovery myself. I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t believe that God loves me.
What else would explain my selfish, unfeeling behavior? It would surely demystify my lack of ministry to others.
I want to experience God’s love. I don’t think God is going to send an angel like He did with Jason, but He may be doing other things to convince me.
This morning I was sitting in my car, waiting for my family to come out. It was a beautiful, crisp, spring day.
I watched a robin move, tilt its head, stare and finally draw a worm from under the ground. I wondered how it did that.
It occurred to me that those who believe the world was created by chance have to be nuts. The behavior of a little bird showed me there has to be a Creator.
God also used the encounter with the new season to bring to mind the lyrics of an old song from my youth:
“What a wondrous time is spring, when all the trees are budding;
The birds begin to sing, the flowers start their blooming.
That’s how it is with God’s love;
Once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing
‘It’s fresh like spring’; you want to pass it on.”
That’s what I have been looking for: an experience of God’s love, one that is so great I want to show it to others.
However, my wife showed me a better way. She told me not to depend on experience. She herself had begun to live by faith in the love of God, regardless of how she felt, or the circumstances.
She is absolutely right. The Bible says God loves me. That should be enough.
This truth is a big deal for me, probably because of my religious upbringing. I was raised in a denomination that emphasized that Jesus died for the world, but didn’t bring it down to earth for me.
I suppose I understood when I put my trust in Him at the age of 17 for salvation that He died for me. However, I now see I stressed the wrong reasons for coming to Him.
I came to Him out of a desire for a purpose to my life. His love did not fit into the equation at the time. It still doesn’t.
My need this day, this hour, is to trust that God loves me, regardless of how I feel. Maybe then I can pass that on.
It will be the right message too, not an incomplete, unclear, or phony gospel.
The immeasurable love of Christ is already in my heart. It’s powerful, for me and for others. I just have to believe it. God, help my unbelief.