Written by Scott Walsh
Ephesians 3:18-"...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,..."
Pop quiz: how deep is the ice on a hockey rink-indoor, like the kind professional teams play on?
When I was a kid growing up in Chicago, I just assumed-and I have no idea why-that the ice my beloved Black Hawks (it was two words back then) was, like, a foot thick. Maybe that was because I always knew that you shouldn't skate on a river or creek until it was really frozen, enough that you wouldn't fall through it or even crack it when skating over it. So I just assumed that rink ice was something like that too.
Boy, was I wrong. The ice on an NHL rink is actually only about an inch thick, and I assume (you'd think I'd learn) that community and college rinks are similar. (I also learned that it takes between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons of water to make a regulation rink. The web site of Skyland's Ice World in New Jersey has some interesting facts about rink ice, if you'd like to check it out.)
Then flash forward 40 years or so, and my pastor, Steve Chappell at Coastline Baptist Church in Oceanside, California, makes a comment mid-sermon one Sunday morning about the depth of God's love for us and the unconditional nature of His love. Being a hockey guy, I immediately flashed back to my childhood and my musings on the thickness of ice.
Since accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior 18 years ago, I have come to learn a little bit about the depth of God's love, although I'm still not sure that I can, or ever will, fully comprehend it, at least not this side of Heaven.
The fact is, there is no limit to God's love for us; it is boundless. If you're from Missouri and need to be shown, look no further than the cross at Calvary. There God's own Son, his only begotten, was tortured and murdered for our sins. Christ spread His arms and willingly accepted nails driven through his wrists and feet. He hung on the cross for six hours until his shift was finished (think about that the next time your legs are screaming from an inordinately lengthy shift on the ice) and his mission accomplished.
That's how much God loves us-enough to send His one and only Scion to give his life in the most grotesque and horrible way imaginable, even when we did not love-or, frankly, particularly like Him-in return.
There's another, slightly tangential quality to God's love that I think it is important to mention, and that is that God's love is unconditional-truly and completely unconditional. That means that God loves us no matter what. No matter what we do or what we don't do.
That unconditional love, that agape as the ancient Greeks would say, is something human beings crave. We claim to express unconditional love for one another in our horizontal, earthly relationships, but I'm not sure we are being completely honest with ourselves when we do. More often than not, our love comes with strings attached. "I love you" if this or if that. Often the condition isn't ever expressed, at least not explicitly.
But God's love isn't like that. It is complete, perfect and without qualification. He defines it in the thirteenth chapter of Paul's letter to the church at Corinth. We aspire to that level of love, but we rarely reach it. We come closest in our marriages and with our children, but even in those relationships we too often, wittingly or unwittingly, place rules on our love, gushing it when things go as we wish and withholding it when our desires are unmet. I have been guilty of this, and I apologize here, publicly, to my wife, Monica, and my son, Jack. I love them both very much and will strive to express that love without exception or limitation. I will fail, but I will not quit trying.
I am thankful that I worship a God who loves me not only warts and all, but, I believe, often because of my warts. I am thankful that, when this earthly life is complete, those warts will be gone and I will live-and love-for eternity in the presence of Love itself.
And I am thankful that, when I lean and skate on God's love, and I am never skating on thin ice.
- Is there anyone in your life whom you love unconditionally?
- What conditions do you put on your love for others?
- John 3:16
- Romans 5:8
- Ephesians 2:4-5
- 1 John 4:7-8
About the Author
Scott Walsh works for Liberty Institute, the largest law firm in the United States dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America. He and his wife Monica live in Oceanside, California and homeschool their son Jack. They attend Coastline Baptist Church in Oceanside and are constantly trying to figure out how to help Jack achieve his dream of playing in the NHL without playing travel hockey.
Posted on Tue, May 24, 2016
by Rick Randazzo filed under