I look forward to not having to preach when I retire in 18 months time. But one of the things I like about preaching is that in the process I grow and learn a heap more than ever my congregation learns. I share just a part of today's sermon. The reading was the great prayer from the book of Ephesians, chapter 3:14 -21. I have always loved this prayer but I grew to really appreciate one line in it. The writer says... "18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Now I went on line and read a whole lot of commentaries on this passage. Some commentators gave me new insight into this very familiar passage. I had alway read that the "breadth and length and height and depth" was of "the love of God", but the sentence above is a very awkward translation. These commentators pointed out that in the greek these words could stand alone. That the writer is saying in effect, "I pray that you may have the power to comprehend (my interlinear greek New Testament says "apprehend") what is the breadth and length and height and depth," and then moves on to talk about knowing God's love. In a sense he was saying that he prays we might understand the breadth, length, height and depth of ... life? It hit me as being so authentic. How often do we make mistakes because we do not take into consideration the long term consequences of some action? How often do we limit life and cause disharmony because we do not think wider than ourselves and our interests? We frequently don't take into account the impacts on others, others' perspectives or other people's position in life. We are wrapped up in our own world and often exclude others... we do not comprehend the breadth of life. We often choose to live for superficial values and purposes, making decisions on shallow grounds because we do not perceive the deeper things of life. How many times do we fail to take the high road, and instead let people or situations drag us down to lower ways of behaving. For example I felt a man recently misrepresented me, I was stewing on it. A friend said to me, "Surely you have enough grace to rise above this." We often need to see the higher more noble paths in life.
These commentators were saying that the writer was praying that we can fully perceive all the dimensions of life. I would be a much wiser and better person if I comprehended "the breadth and length and height and depth" of life. It rang bells with me.