The Extravagant Dimensions of God’s Love

The Extravagant Dimensions of God’s Love
By Tony Cooke

Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus that they (along with all of us) would “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” and “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19). Have you ever stopped to think about the multiple dimensions of God’s love—the breadth, length, depth, and height— that Paul mentions?

The Message Version renders this verse: “…you’ll be able to take in with all Christians 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.

The Breadth of God’s Love
The Psalmist speaks of having been in calamity and distress, but then being delivered into a broad place (Psalm 18:19; 118:5). 1 Chronicles 4:40 speaks of those who, “…found rich, good pasture, and the land was broad, quiet, and peaceful.” When I think of breadth, I think of a place that is accommodating, where there is ample space and room to breathe. Sometimes I hear preachers who share very simple truths; they deliberately stay away from trying to be complicated. What they are sharing is not deep, but the simplicity of their message has wide appeal and draws many people. A church that is strong in expressing the breadth of God’s love will provide ministry that is very relevant and meets people where they are.

The Length of God’s Love
The concept of length has to do with how far something reaches. When it comes to the love of God, we know that He is longsuffering, and that He is able to save people to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Isaiah 59:1 (NIV) says, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save.” David perceived the long arm of God’s love when he said, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9-10). A church that is strong in expressing the length of God’s love will have a tremendous heart for missions and evangelism.

The Depth of God’s Love
1 Corinthians 2:10 speaks of how the Holy Spirit reveals “…the deep things of God.” Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Daniel said that God “reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:22). If you’re building a great building, you don’t want a superficial, shallow foundation—you need one that is very substantive. While we never want to neglect the basics, neither do we want to perpetually stay in shallow waters with God. We want to encourage people to launch out into the deep! A church that is strong in expressing the depth of God’s love will have a robust emphasis on the Word and the Spirit—they will have strong teaching and fervent prayer.

The Height of God’s Love
This dimension of God’s love—the height of God’s love—isn’t simply high over us, but it draws us upward in worship toward God. Throughout Scripture, we are admonished to lift our eyes, our hearts, and our hands in praise, worship and adoration to God. The fact that God is continually referred to as “the Most High” indicates that He wants us looking up! A church that is strong in expressing the height of God’s love will be a worshipping church, one that exalts and adores God from the heart.

These different dimensions are meant to be complementary, not contradictory. A pastoral perspective might emphasize breadth, an evangelistic perspective might focus on length, a teaching perspective might emphasize depth, while a worshipper’s perspective might emphasize height. May God help all of us to appreciate, experience, and express the extravagant dimensions of God’s love! May we do exactly what Paul admonished us to do: “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.”