Love Beyond Knowledge
How does the love of Christ shape your understanding?
The followers of Christ in Ephesus were residents of a seaport city in Asia Minor, a part of the Roman Empire. Many of their neighbors worshiped the goddess Artemis, to whom a temple had been built. Others followed the teachings of Greek philosophers. Ephesus was a center of culture and commerce, second only to the city of Rome, and its residents were on an ongoing search for knowledge and understanding.
When the apostle Paul came to Ephesus, he told them about Jesus, the one who makes sense of what God has been doing in the world. Jesus gave them the gift of understanding in a world of competing religions and philosophies. In particular, Paul invited them to “know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Paul knew that experiencing the love of Christ is the key to understanding.
Years later, when Christians were arguing over biblical understandings in the 1500s, a group of Scottish leaders discovered that the interpretation of Scripture “does not belong to any private or public person,” nor to any church. Instead, they encouraged Christians to trust the Holy Spirit to guide them, and to focus on “what Christ Jesus himself did and commanded.” Like Paul, they realized that the Spirit and Jesus together could lead them to the truth.
Christians still disagree about what it means to be a faithful person today. Some quote Old Testament prohibitions against certain types of sexual activity, while others point to frightening verses from the book of Revelation. But our understanding of God’s will is still best shaped by what Jesus Christ did and commanded. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” said Jesus (Matthew 22:39). “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
Jesus can open our minds to what it means to be faithful Christians in the world today. “We dare not receive or admit any interpretation that is contrary” to the Christian faith, said the writers of the Scots Confession, “or to the rule of love.” Every word in the Bible should be interpreted through our faith in Jesus Christ, and through the rule of love.
This is still a good approach for Christians who seek an understanding of God’s will today. The Holy Spirit wants us to have “strong roots in love” (verse 17), so that we will have “the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers” (verse 18). Since the time of the apostle Paul, the love of Christ has offered a type of understanding that is beyond the competing philosophies of the world.
God of wisdom, help us always to focus on the love of Christ that is beyond understanding. Amen.