"...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..." (Ephesians 3:18).
The discovery of how limitless is the power of the love of Jesus was never intended to be a one-time discovery, nor was it be one accomplished in isolation. Paul wrote to the church and exhorted them to live it out the way it was designed, in togetherness and community. The Church is to be the most persuasive and convincing marketing billboard of this all-surpassing love of Jesus. "Together with all the Lord's holy people..." Paul made a case against discrimination, exclusivity, and isolation. He told them to be the Church, to love people, and to be a reflection of the limitless love of Jesus within the Church.
This wasn't even a message to the unbelievers, but to those who had an encounter WITH the love of Jesus. It was as though Paul was saying, "Now that you have come to know this love of Jeus, it's your time to show this love of Jesus. Oh, and don't start out 'there.' Start right in here with the people that are the closest to you." Paul wanted to speak integrity and credibility into them as a church, so that when they sought to reach out to others, the picture of the love of Jesus wouldn't be compromised.
Living for Jesus is NOT something Scripture speaks of as being private, ingonito, or something in which to be shamed. On the contrary, Jesus said that "you are the light of the world..." and that a "city on the hill should not be hidden..." You can not be the Church of Jesus and not be connected, having undealt with divisions, or exhibiting behavior not seen in Jesus. For the world to believe in the integrity of the love of Jesus, they must see it in the church. And how you can you, with your own personal integrity, reach out to others when you're not living out the love of Jesus with others who share your belief?
Perhaps the reason there is such a gap between those who believe and those who share their belief, is because those who believe have been hurt by NOT SEEING the love of Jesus in the interactions with others in the church. Don't allow the hurts you have experienced lead you to disconnect, thus further damaging the integrity of the picture of the love of Jesus. Don't wait for the change. Be the change. Don't wait for someone else to initiate doing what should have already been done. You do it. Why should you do it first? Because YOU want the world to see the REAL love of the REAL Jesus that is wider, longer, higher, and deeper than anything else they have ever encountered. Just as negative change begins with the power of one, so does positive change. And know this, there is greater power when people come together and live out the integrity of the life-changing love of Jesus.
Lord, I pray that you would continue to help me to know what it means to live the integrity of the picture of your love. You gave all to love all. I konw that is the right thing to do, but actually doing it can be such a challenge. Lord, you know that even good people can hurt others, whether intentionally or out of uneducated ingorance. Help me to always look at you even when I feel as though I have -been radar-locked within the crosshairs of someone else's weapon of attack. Help to respond as you have responded. Help me to love in the midst of hard times as you have shown and taught me to do. I thank You that the width, length, heighth, and depth of Your love is greater than every one of my hurts, failures, and disappointments. I ask You to help me live out THAT picture with great integrity with those closest to me, so that those in the distance will also believe me. I ask this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.