Can you comprehend the fullness of God? When we say that God is infinite and eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing, do you get it? If you answered yes, then… well, I’m sorry to say but… you don’t know God. Whatever this “God” is that you think you understand — that’s not Him. God is only God if He is incomprehensible. Unfathomable. Beyond our ways of thinking or even imagining. Mind-blowing.
Can you comprehend love? When we say that love is infinite and eternal, requiring sacrifice and providing fulfillment, do you get it? If you answered yes, then, well… you must be a follower of Christ.
A man in a subway station sees a perfect stranger fall down in a convulsion and then tumble off of the platform onto the tracks below. He sees the lights of an oncoming train and knows that the stranger will be killed in seconds. What would you do if you were that man with that knowledge? Would you, able-bodied, throw a prayer up to God to spare the stranger’s life, desperately convince somebody nearby to attempt a rescue, or jump down onto the tracks yourself to pull the stranger to safety?
The real man in this real situation in New York in 2007 chose to take no chances and waste no time. He threw himself off of the platform and down onto the tracks, protecting the stranger in a shallow space, shielded by his body from the train roaring overhead. He had much to lose if the rescue had not been successful, as he was the father of two young children who were with him on the platform that day. He didn’t owe anything to the stranger who would have otherwise been killed and he certainly would not have been blamed for staying safe with the other witnesses of the fall. He had only a split-second to make his decision, but later said that the decision was easy.
It was the right thing to do.
Because of love.
I don’t know whether or not this heroic man was a professed Christian, but I do know that he was following Christ. He identified so intimately with the helpless, needing person that he was willing to give himself utterly and completely to save the person’s life. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Christ told his disciples. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Before we can hope to have even an inkling of comprehension of God, we must first be rooted in love — real love — that requires sacrifice. If we are not willing to suffer for love, then we don’t know love. And if we don’t know love, then we surely have no clue about God. Every parent who goes without for the good of his or her child, every spouse who willingly defers to the other, every person in authority who admits that he was wrong and makes humble restitution, and every employee who generously gives praise to a coworker who bested her is bowing before the altar of love as true worshipers of God. These small acts are grateful recognition of our spiritual ties to one another and receptive participation in eternal glory.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19.)
To comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of life, of existence, of the universe, we must first be “rooted and grounded in love.” Love is the key to opening the Mystery of being. Whatever we can learn during our sojourn on earth — facts, figures, formulations, and sensations — is all useless data unless we “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”
I was a much loved child and have always known that I am loved. This is not something that everyone can truly say. My childhood was happy and filled with many good things, both pleasant and prickly. But I was selfish. The last piece of desert, the best piece of meat, would, of course, belong to me and not to anyone else, baby that I was. I was nice when it felt good and mean when it felt good. My family forgave me easily and gave me true examples of self-sacrificing love in their care of me with my special needs, but I didn’t learn better.
Although I thought that I knew what love was, I didn’t experience true love, real love, until I came to know Christ on the Cross. Then the Spirit within me was strengthened and the power of Christ dwelt in my heart through faith — the power to really love. And, so, to know God.
God Almighty, beyond comprehension, became a very real and particular human being who gave himself utterly and completely to me. God didn’t owe me anything, mere creature that I am, but He saw my need to be grounded in love, to be filled with God, and identified intimately with me.
Now I try to let someone else have the better piece, now I strive to remember what really matters. Whenever I love another human being as Christ loves me, I am filled with the fullness of being. Whenever any of us give ourselves to another in real love, we glimpse the breadth and length and height and depth, and are filled with all the fullness of God.
© 2018 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.