“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.”
Romans‬ ‭2‬:‭1‬ ‭NLT

How often in our lives have we called out to God, asking Him to do something about the wicked? We think, if only God would destroy these totalitarian rulers in places like China, Russia or Iran. Or closer to home, what about that drug dealer, who causes so much misery? We cry out to God, that He would help the Police catch the burglar who beat up an old lady gratuitously while robbing her home. The Bible too contains cries and pleas to God about the wicked. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 104:35a, “Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth; let the wicked disappear forever…”. And Psalm 139:19, “O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers!

But there’s a problem. Paul wrote a few words in Romans 3:23 that go like this, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard”. So if everyone is wicked anyway, why should God restrict His judgement and punishment for those people over there but not the ones over here? If the pass mark for an exam is 50%, and one person achieves 49% while another only gets 20%, there is no difference with the outcome – both people have failed the exam. As others have said, God has no favourites and the ground at the foot of the Cross is level ground. What is there about human beings, that faults, sins, and problems can all be seen in other people but we can’t see them in ourselves? Why should we pilgrims try and take the moral high ground when we are also under God’s judgement.

Jesus taught about judging others in His Sermon on the Mount. We read His words in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged”. Paul also pointed out to his Roman friends that Christians are particularly at fault, because they know the difference between right and wrong. An unbeliever can have the, albeit weak, excuse that they didn’t know God and His requirements. But not a Christian.

However, knowing what we should do, and doing it are two different things. I was reminded the other day about a personal lapse. A friend was severely afflicted with the cold virus and I showed him little sympathy. A week later I was displaying the same symptoms and feeling quite sorry for myself. I didn’t get much sympathy either, but my wife reminded me of my attitude the week before. Perhaps, judging my friend’s response to his cold ended up with me being judged with the same criteria I used. Hmmm…

We pilgrims need to take into account seriously what Jesus said. Judging mankind is God’s prerogative, not ours. The Apostle James echoed Jesus’ words, as we read in James 2:12-13, “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you”. Instead of judging others, we must show them mercy. In 1 Peter 4:17, Peter wrote, “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?” Our mercy must displace any feelings of judgement we might hold. It’s a counter-cultural response. When the world shouts judgement, we shout mercy. When the world condemns, we see a person who has lost their way. When the world lashes out, we embrace and show the love of God. When the world rejects the unlovely, we accept and invite them to join us on our journey to Eternal Life. We have the Good News that far surpasses all the Bad News the world can produce.

Dear Father God. What can we say but “thank You”. Your love prevails. Please help us to win others for You, so that they too will escape the verdict that leads to an eternal death. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Personal Contact

“One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.”
Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭10‬-‭12‬ ‭NLT

We look back at the mayhem of the last two years or so, with periods of “lock down” and societal restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic, and realise how much we depend on personal contact. The opportunity to speak to someone face to face. The opportunity to read body language as well as hear words. The times when a vulnerable person needs a kind touch or hug. Yes, technology helps with the video conference apps, but a lonely old person next door or along the street is denied such methods of keeping in touch. There is no substitute for in-person contact. Mankind is wired for social interaction. God planned it that way.

Paul, in his letter, seemed to be desperate to make personal contact with the Christians in Rome. He had heard much about them, snippets of news carried, word of mouth, by travellers making the long journey between Italy and the lands West of the Mediterranean Sea. Businessmen or merchants trading their wares perhaps. There was none of our modern technological aids in those days, and even paper-based media non-existent. And even no social media. How did they manage?

Paul wanted to visit the Roman Christians so that he could “bring [them] some spiritual gift that will help [them] grow strong in the Lord”. What a lovely reason for visiting. What an expectancy that would have brought to the Roman church. 

The people in Rome would have heard all about Paul. His exploits would have reverberated around the Middle East at that time. The stories of miracles and other events encountered on his missionary journeys would have made news in those days. So the idea that he was about to come with a “spiritual gift” would have greatly encouraged them. Life for Christians in Rome at that time wasn’t easy by any means, and any encouragement should have been greatly welcomed and appreciated.

What “spiritual gift” would Paul have brought? He mentioned faith in his letter, but is that what he had in mind? If a man or woman of God was visiting our churches, what “spiritual gift” would we find encouraging? I’m sure we are all at different stages in our spiritual journeys, but God knows what we need. And Paul, through his relationship with God, would have delivered the gift needed in Rome. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul provides a list of spiritual gifts. Gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, healing,  faith, miracles, prophesy, tongues and interpretation. At a God-level, the working of these gifts in people can be transforming, building up faith in the very One who is the Source of the gifts. And in 1 Corinthians 12:11, Paul wrote, “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.” Paul, through the Spirit, was totally open to be God’s delivery man, equipped to bring to the Roman church what they needed to help them “grow strong”  in their situation.

What spiritual gifts do we pilgrims need? Jesus said, as recoded in Luke 11:11-13, “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”. God has available to Him the greatest gift of all – the Holy Spirit, and He is unstinting in His willingness to give Him to us. But we have to ask. Is that how we start our days, asking for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit? By not doing so, are we missing out on the greatest gift of all time? How empowering it is to be able to go into our work-a-day lives with the Holy Spirit helping us at every turn. Giving us wisdom when we are faced with a difficult decision or situation. Knowledge when we need enlightenment. We can see an application for every spiritual gift that Paul listed, but we need to ask for the Holy Spirit to be with us, enhancing and building our faith that He will help us in every situation that we meet. We may need to take small, tentative steps, but as we do, our spiritual faith muscles are built up and extend to more and more of the life issues we all encounter. What a wonderful God we serve! A loving Heavenly Father, the Giver of good gifts to His children.

Dear Father God. We are eternally grateful for all You have done for us. We worship You today. Amen.

Constant Improvements

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”
Revelation‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭NLT

Wow! What an endorsement from the Master Himself. Jesus said that He had observed the lives of the Thyatiraeans and, in particular, He singled out their love, faith, service and patient endurance. He also noted that they weren’t satisfied in staying at a certain level. He said they were improving. I cannot think of a better accolade for Christians in any generation, let alone those in the hostile environment in which the Thyatiraeans lived. As the letter was read out to them I can imagine the smiles on their faces; an endorsement for their diligent approach to their lives in Christ.

Was there any significance in Jesus just selecting these four attributes? Why not their prowess in praying for the sick? Or their attendance records for Bible Studies? Or their diligence in missionary work, knocking on the doors of the people in the next town? No. Jesus selected four examples of a Godly character. Internal attitudes and examples of a deep relational experience with their loving Heavenly Father. That sweet spot where their Christian lives were nurtured and developed to become more like Jesus.

The four attributes selected by Jesus were particularly important and significant in the society and culture prevalent in First Century Greece. They would not just have involved the way the people in the church related to each other but would also have included how they related to those in the society around them. This would not have been easy for them but their counter-cultural witness would have made significant gains for God’s Kingdom, swelling their numbers as the devil’s frontiers were pushed back.

Society and culture today is different in many ways to the Ancient Greek ways of life. Gone are the extravagant temples erected in the honour of the pantheon of Greek gods. Gone is the devilish practices that pervaded the society in those days. Today, the same issues prevail but in a more subtle way. So we pilgrims must ask ourselves if Jesus would commend us too for our love, faith, service and patient endurance. And are these character attributes growing within us day by day? Sometimes it is good to undertake a personal spiritual check up just to make sure. And how about the churches of which we are a part? Can we tick the “constant improvement” box? Or is there a “could do better” note on our report cards? But whatever the personal or corporate outcome, we know that God is helping us. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13, “…Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him”. If God is working within us we cannot fail. And in Ephesians 2:10 we read that we are His workmanship, created to be like Jesus. So as we remain close to God, being obedient to what He says, we cannot fail to win the accolade received by the Thyatiraean church. 

Dear Lord Jesus. We are so grateful for Your encouragement. You are always there for us on our daily walk through life, helping us to grow more like You. Please help us to be open to the work of Your Spirit in our lives. Amen.

Final Blessings

“Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 6:23-24 NLT

Paul finished his letter to the Ephesian church with a blessing. There is something powerful about speaking out a blessing. A God-focused blessing does something profound in Heavenly realms. As it is uttered, angels pause in their duties, enjoying the moment. Demons in other places cringe as the words echo around their spiritual realms. The devil moves away to find an easier place to undertake his nefarious works. 

Paul’s blessing included three fundamental God-principles. Firstly His peace. In this war-torn world, Russia and Ukraine are, as I write, fighting a war I thought I would never see in my lifetime; peace is a precious commodity and one I pray for daily. A lack of peace destroys us. There is so much strife in our relationships, our families, our communities. Sometimes it is despairing to see so many people who seem to prefer a lack of peace in their lives. A God-peace is precious. It soothes our troubled souls. It brings relief to our mental conflicts and distress. So at every opportunity, we must, as peace-loving pilgrims, speak out God’s peace, avoiding conflict wherever possible.

Paul’s second blessing was to ask God, our Heavenly Father, to give us ”love with faithfulness”. And Paul reminded us that God is also the Father of Jesus, making Him our elder brother. How amazing is that! And we open up our spiritual receptors to receive God’s love, which we can then faithfully pass onto others. We feel God’s love penetrating deep within our spirits, melting away the tensions, softening any hard bits that are calloused by contact with the unloving world around us. Our neighbours, friends, and family members, may not be feeling God’s love for themselves, so we have the opportunity to share our messages of hope and love with them. It’s amazing to watch a hardened God-denier soften when told that God loves them regardless of their rejection of Him. 

Paul finishes with his third blessing. Grace. Eternal grace. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense is a great way of remembering what He has done for us. God’s grace covers us. It manifests in love regardless of how we behave. Grace sees Christ’s righteousness when we deserve judgement. Grace pours from God’s throne without limit. And it is there for us whenever we are feeling a bit wobbly. When we are unsure and feeling a bit insecure. And it never ends – Paul prays that it will be eternally with us. 

I love the blessing that we find in Numbers 6:24-26. Let’s finish with it today.

May the Lord bless you and protect you
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you
May the Lord show you His favour
And give you His peace.


“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”.
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:22, 25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We can’t lift Ephesians 5:22 out of this Scripture passage, taking it out of context. Some have attempted to do this in the past, with disastrous consequences. But in the misogynistic society in Paul’s day, a wife’s place was often little better than a servant’s. Even today, some Middle-Eastern countries still have the same cultural expectations. So as the letter to the Ephesians was being read out, you can just imagine the emotions and thoughts that would have been swirling around in people’s minds. Often people hear only what they want to hear, and verse 22 perhaps resonated in a male mind, leading to a confrontation between a husband and wife when they returned home, verse 25 forgotten or ignored.

There is something special about a God-ordained and God-focused relationship. In a marriage, both the man and woman have their own particular roles. Roles designed by God, who clearly understood how marriages will work. And we find that successful, life-long, marriages have in place a mutual love and commitment, that weathers all the storms of life. That is not to say the lives together have all been easy, but the husband and wife have worked through issues together.

The marital model Paul wrote about, as captured by our verses today, is based, first and foremost, on a husband loving his wife, in such a way that it mirrors the sacrificial love Jesus had, and still has, for His church. A husband lays down his life for the sake of his wife. That means he puts her needs first. He looks after her, giving her protection and security, dealing with any marital issues with compassion and leadership. In return, the wife uses her experience of submission to Jesus as the basis of her submission to her husband. In the issues of life, the marital love-submission model concludes with the husband making the final decisions, but in reality, such conclusions are jointly made.

So what does today’s pilgrim make of marriage? The image of a lonely single man or woman walking the paths of life, facing into whatever dangers and difficulties are around the next corner, is somehow softened by two pilgrims, hand in hand, helping each other through whatever is before them. There is a Scripture that, in the end, defines a successful outcome to the pilgrimage, all obstacles resolved. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”. The secret lies in the third cord. Though a man and woman can weather many of the storms of life together, the addition of a third Person makes the marriage invincible. A couple who are close to God inevitable end up closer to each other. They pray together. They worship Him together. And in times of discord and disagreement, coming before God with the issues will result in a remedy. With God being the most important Person in the marriage, it cannot fail to succeed. 

Dearly Loved

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

These verses say unequivocally that we Christians are “dearly loved”. Children of God. And Jesus, through His sacrifice at Calvary, a selfless act that was part of God’s plan, demonstrated His love for us. Because we are “dearly loved”, Paul wrote that we must follow God’s example, and we must “live a life of love”. Beautiful words and sentiments. Two verses that give us a warm glow inside and lead us to a place of worship, as we meditate on all that God has done for us. 

But here’s the thing – what does ”living a life of love” look like in the day to day world of today’s pilgrims? In a war-torn world, full of doom and gloom. The Covid pandemic refuses to lie down or go away. Rising energy and commodity costs risk tipping many families into poverty and debt. Newspapers and journalists try to outdo each other to win the prize for the most negative, doom-laden, story. But in all of that the message to us today is the same as it was when Paul wrote to his Ephesian friends, that we are “dearly loved”. I don’t know about you but that has provided me with another perspective on life. My status in God’s eyes somehow elevates me above the natural world into Heavenly places. 

On my morning prayer walk today I looked around at the hints of spring. The snowdrops have been around for a while. Crocuses and daffodils abound. The bird song is different. Just a few days ago I saw a couple of ducks exploring the small stream that trickles through the woodland nearby. In the distance was the drumming of a woodpecker. This is God’s creation, the environment He supplied for the “deeply loved”. And somehow, the worldly mayhem around me seemed less relevant. Escapism? Denial? I don’t think so – just a reminder, an appreciation, that my Heavenly Father cares for me. He promised never to leave me. He promised to meet all my needs. Life may not be easy right now, but He is here for me, because He loves me.

Back to my question – what does living a life of love look like? Simply, the love God has lavished on me is there for me to lavish on those around me. To those in my family. My neighbours and friends. My workmates. Those people I meet in the supermarket, the petrol station. And my acts of love may seem small – perhaps no more than a cheery word – but essential nonetheless to dispense the love we have to share. A man I met the other day is worried about being able to pay his energy bills. The anxiety is eating away at him like a cancer. I couldn’t do much about his bills, but I was able to tell him that God loves and cares for him. Briefly, a flicker of relief crossed his face and I pray that he too comes to a place where he knows he is deeply loved.

Who is there around us today who needs to know the love of God? We all have our messages of hope, ready and waiting to bring light into a dark world. We all must unselfishly try our utmost to find someone with whom we can share all that God has done for us. We are dearly loved children of God extending an invitation to those we meet, an invitation to join the most wonderful family ever. God’s family. Open to all – He has more than enough love to go round.

Telling Lies

“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbours the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. ‭‭
Ephesians‬ ‭4:25‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In this verse Paul highlights a seemingly-eternal human trait – the telling of lies. What’s the problem with lies, some might say. After all, telling the truth to someone can protect them from unnecessary worry or pain. Surely a “white lie” can be justified? Should I really tell a loved one the truth that they are suffering from an incurable condition? Wouldn’t a lie instead be the best way? Didn’t Paul really mean that we shouldn’t tell lies to excuse our bad behaviour or hurt someone? Difficult questions, but Paul writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, unequivocally stated that we must tell the truth. Lies must stop. Jesus warned us that lies originate with the devil, who He referred to as the father of lies. The words of Jesus were recorded in John 8:44 when addressing the people in the Temple, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”. So perhaps Paul was pointing out the truth that lies are of the devil. The situation is simple – truth comes from God, lies come from the devil. 

So what does today’s pilgrim do about telling lies? Why do we tell lies in the first place? Some people seem to tell lies by default, to the extent that they seem unable to separate lies from truth. There is obviously an attraction to tell a lie if we can see it will get us off the hook for some misdemeanour. Or there might be an opportunity to gain a reward by lying. Some people will tell lies to make themselves look better than they really are, driven by some insecurity or other emotional problem. There are many reasons for why we feel the temptation to tell a lie. But in the end we have a choice. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to tell lies. He wants the truth.

There is a way to tell the truth in everything, because if there wasn’t God would have said so. We read earlier in this chapter in Ephesians, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love,….”. That’s the key – God’s love flowing through us will help us find the right words and deliver truths the right way. With God in our lives there is no reason to tell lies. 

Paul finally reminded his readers about unity in the body, the church. And that is one thing which hasn’t changed over the years. Lies and deception will undermine and destroy the love that binds together our churches in unity. Jesus felt so strongly about the importance of truth, that He prefixed many a parable or teaching by the words “I tell you the truth“. Or, in the old King James version, “Verily, verily, I say unto you“. In John 14:6, Jesus affirmed that in fact He was the Truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”. So telling the truth is rather important don’t we think? We plod on in our pilgrimage the Jesus way, the way of truth.

Speaking the Truth

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”
‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Truth. In John 18, we read that Jesus came before Pilate and the subject of truth came up. We read, “Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked….”“. Pilate expressed, perhaps cynically, the uncertainty of “truth” from a human perspective. Absolute truth is a quality that eludes us, because we don’t have access to absolutes. For example, a witness in a court case promises to say “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. But what he says is only his perspective of the truth, based on his observations at the time the crime, was committed. Dictionaries don’t help much either – one definition of “truth” is “the quality or state of being true”. 

In John 14:6, Jesus said He is the truth. We read, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Only Jesus is the absolute truth. What He said was true. True then and just as true today. And this gives a baseline of truth, against which all other “truths” can be compared.

So what was Paul meaning when he said, “we will speak the truth in love”. The previous verse in Ephesians 4 mentions the danger of lies appearing to be so convincing that they could be interpreted as truth. And the previous verse to that highlights the opportunity we have to grow in our knowledge of Jesus, a theme also in our verse today. The reality is that the closer we get to Jesus, the closer we will get to the truth. Truth becomes accessible to us, and this is a powerful place to be. Paul then cautions us to only speak the truth in a spirit of love. Earlier in chapter 4 of Ephesians, Paul encourages us to always to “be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love“. And from that perspective, with a humble and gentle love that seeks the other person’s highest good, we can deliver difficult truths to help the other person to grow “in every way more and more like Christ”. 

So how does the pilgrim today speak out truths in love? We are all on our journeys through life; all at different stages. And one quality we must have is our love for fellow pilgrims. Then we can meet the criteria to say to someone, who is perhaps further behind on their journey, what they should, or shouldn’t, do. For example, someone who is engaging in some form of sinful activity would perhaps be helped by a fellow Christian lovingly pointing out the error of their ways. And we must also be aware that we too can be corrected in a similar way. But over it all, there must be a bridge of love, a relational bridge, over which we can walk with the other person, walking into truth together. Jesus said He was the Truth. He is the Truth. And as we grow to be more like Him, we too can perhaps get a glimpse of His loving truth as it works through our lives.


May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:19 NLT

The love of Christ. Just the very thought of it drove Paul to his knees in that prison cell. And he once again prays for his Ephesian friends, that his experience of the love of Christ would be experienced by them as well. But you can just imagine him shaking his head, sadly, appreciating and understanding that Christ’s love would be too much for them to fully understand. But he comforted himself with the thought that as they grew in the Christ-love-experience, they would grow in completeness, experiencing the “fullness of life and power that comes from God“. 

Have we experienced the love of Christ? Has it permeated into our lives, changing who we are and what we do? Are we grumpy pilgrims who have shut out the love of Christ from our lives, being bounded and constrained instead by our sinful natures? Or are we renewed people, with Christ’s love displacing the selfishness and anger that can so easily grow inside of us? Are we a people who are experiencing “all the fullness of life and power that comes from God”

I suppose it boils down to the question, what is filling our lives? Paul wanted his friends to be filled with everything that God had for them. He wanted them to live a life worthy of their calling. He wanted them to experience the power of God working through their lives, as they acted as “salt and light” in their communities. Nothing has changed in the centuries between Paul’s letter and today. The prayer Paul prayed for his friends has echoed through time, touching countless people throughout the world. And it is still alive and active in our own lives. The path before us has been well-trodden by many pilgrims over the years and as we place our feet in their footsteps, let us feel the love of Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us, as He did with them.

Perhaps it is a good exercise to personalise this verse. To adapt it to become our personal prayer. To allow our thinking to turn away from a few Christians in a past time, to instead touch us today. The prayer would look something like this, “May [I] experience the love of Christ, though it is too great [for me] to understand fully. Then [I] will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God“. And perhaps add something like “Please help me to fully understand Your love, allowing it to transform my life this day and forever”. This is a prayer that, if prayed sincerely, God will never fail to answer. Amen.

The Fourth Dimension

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.”
Ephesians 3:18 NLT

Another verse with that “power” word. Some would question how a helpless prisoner could write about power. But that would be because they don’t understand anything about God’s power and what He had planned for Paul’s life. In this verse Paul was praying that God’s people would grasp how extensive and complete God’s love is, but Paul thought that God’s power would be required to help them understand.

We live in a three-dimensional world. If we pick up any object we can see that it has length, height and depth. Three dimensions. If we consider our homes, they have three dimensions – length, height and depth. We have transport systems that switch between two-dimensional and three-dimensional travel, for example an aircraft. And in this technical age we have very clever computer apps that are able to design three dimensional objects and then we have 3D printers that will manufacture them. Amazing! But our physical world is just how God designed and created it, in three dimensions. 

But in our verse today, it was as though Paul was introducing a fourth dimension. He wrote about width, length, height and depth. So what did he mean? Was it just a repetitive slip of his pen? Or did he have something else in mind, in his thoughtful prayer? Something else relevant and to do with God’s love? 

I’m sure the theologians have their answers, but for me I believe Paul was saying something significant about God’s power. Whatever we think, or the Ephesians thought, there is something about God’s love that is, well, just complete. It is so extensive that we will never totally understand it, and then by a huge margin. It has depths that we will never be able to plumb. It has height that is unmeasurable. It has width that extends across every human being who has ever lived, or who is yet to come. Our world is permeated by God’s love. But this fourth dimension? I believe that this is eternity. For me, Paul was describing a love that was not only unmeasurable in our three dimensional space, but was with us for all time, for eternity. 

And so it is today. We pilgrims are traveling through an amazing cosmos. We have all that we need for physical life – air, water, food etc. – but we also have all that we need for our spiritual life. And it starts and ends with God’s love. I imagine it to be all around us like oxygen but for our very spirits. It is there all around us, but we cannot see it with our physical senses. It’s not something we can measure. But God’s love is so extensive and complete that words cannot describe it. Was that Paul’s difficulty as he wrote this verse from the confines of his mind, from the confines of his prison cell? We received a glimpse of God’s love at Calvary, when His Son, Jesus, gave His life for us, for the redemption of our sins. And the same love is still around us today. Seasoned with God’s grace. Disseminated by the Holy Spirit. Covering us day by day. And all we have to do is take deep spiritual breaths to receive it. No wonder in that prison cell, as the enormity of God’s love suddenly hit him, that Paul fell to his knees. What else could he do before our truly loving God? And the same for us. What else can we do? And on our knees we humbly express our praise and thanks, worshipping at His feet. 

In our pilgrimage through life, we do so, rubbing shoulders with our fellow members of society, with our family, with our friends. But do we individually bask in a God-love-bubble? In splendid isolation, keeping His love just to ourselves? There’s something about God’s love that has to be shared. We are wired to spread this love to those around us, the unloved, the lonely, the weary, the spiritually starving. There is something within us that bursts to tell others. We can’t keep it in. So in our war-torn world, we do what Jesus said, we love our enemies. We love the unlovely. Warts and all. And perhaps, through us, they too will feel the love of God in all its width, its height, its length, its depth; the oxygen of God’s Spirit infusing into their very own souls as well as ours. Jackie Pulling is quoted as saying, “God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet”. She explained that we need to have soft hearts to love people, and hard feet to keep on loving them. Let us pray that we too have soft hearts, with the power to understand “How deep [God’s] love is“.