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Description: Firmly Grounded in God’s Love 2
Firmly Grounded in God’s Love 2
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We’re tackling the last bit of that verse, loved ones, that we’ve been looking at in Ephesians 3 and
you’ll know it yourselves almost without looking it up but Ephesians 3:17, you remember. It’s part
of Paul’s prayer and he’s saying in 14, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,” and then
he’s praying in verse 17, “And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being
rooted and grounded in love,” and that’s the bit that we’re looking at today, that you being rooted
and grounded in love.
And I was looking at one of the trees that have fallen over in Raleigh. They are pine trees and
they appear to have very shallow roots, they seem to splay out to the side, but when those trees go
over you see the extent of the root system and it is remarkable how tree roots entwine inside
themselves for one thing, and then stretch out into all kinds of places in the earth and hold the
tree. And of course it’s even greater the root system in other trees rather than pine trees, but
they’re very, very strong and very complicated.
And I was looking at it because I was thinking, “How would we get rid of it you always have to pay
so much to get somebody to remove those trees that have tipped over?” And I was working out how I
would cut and I saw that I’d have to cut at a number of places just to disentangle the roots from
each other, and then they were tangled through other things to that belonged to other plants. So
you can see how a root system seems to find its way into all kinds of different places in the earth
to draw up the nourishment from the earth and from the water that is in it. And it brings home to
you a little what the Greek word means “rooted” rooted in love.
What came home to me was this, how often have we looked at these hands. How often have we looked at
these fingers, and perhaps sometimes not only the ladies but the gentlemen wonder, “Well I wish they
were a different shape or I wish they were longer, or something like that.” But still we look at
those hands and fingers and we realize that there is no human being with all the skill of a highly
educated surgeon, there is no human being that can give me a hand like that. There’s just no one,
and if I lose that hand the artificial attachment that human surgeons put on is crude and gruesome
compared with the beauty of this hand.
Who gave me that? Who gave me such a present? Who gave me such a hand? I know who gave me this
cough here, and this tie, but who gave me that hand? Who thought so much of me that he would give
me a hand like that? And it just comes home to you, oh what love there is in the person that gave
me that, how he must care about me. And here’s another one, looks the same and yet it’s not the
same. And then I go on and I think of all the trouble that the surgeons took on this blood plump
inside, and all the money that it took to fix a little bit of it and re-, well he didn’t replace
they just took a vein out of my leg here and stuck it in there.
So they didn’t even produce that, and then I think of all the hours, eight or nine hours they spent
unreplacing those little bits, and then I think that there’s no way in which they can make a heart
like that. Again the thing that they make is a crude kind of clumsy thing that still doesn’t work
as well as this one. And I think did you give it to me? Did you give it to me? Did my mother give
it to me? No, and I think what must be the thoughtfulness of the person, or the being who gave me
And I don’t know but when you begin to think of just what you have, of just the things that you have
in your body, it’s impossible to avoid realizing, “Wait a minute, however this came to me, whether
it came to me by evolution, or whatever way it came to me, whoever created the thing that resulted
in this body that I have, that person has an interest in me. He certainly has an interest in me he
has given a lot of money, or a lot of care, or a lot of thoughtfulness into giving me these things.”
And of course you realize that there is over whelming love in that. And I put it like that because
I think we have failed to realize the love that there is in just the things that we own, and we
think, “Oh well yeah of course that’s it, you know, that’s our body, that’s our body, that’s what we
have all human beings have bodies,” but think of the love of the person who gave us that. And so
that’s the beginning of being rooted in that love, that’s part of what it means.
Every moment of our days we’re bound if we have any common sense to think, “Oh another breathe, I’ve
taken another breathe, and another breathe, and another breathe, oh thank you, thank you, thank you
that I can take another breathe.” Every time we look at a flower, every time we enjoy it’s color,
and enjoy the shape of its petals, every moment we feel the wind in our faces you’re bound to think
right then, there’s great love, great love given to me. There’s somebody who has given me something
every day. This isn’t my dad saying son have you money for the bus? This isn’t your mum saying,
“Have you something to wear that is nice this evening?” This is somebody who every second is taking
care of the circulation of your blood, taking care of your breathing, putting little thoughts into
your mind that give you a sense of happiness. We’re rooted in his love if we just in any way think
of all the things we have.
And of course then when you begin to think of the details of the creation and you begin to think we
were created inside his own Son, our God made us inside his Son. And he made us inside his Son so
that he would have us forever, and he made us inside his Son giving us unconditionally all the
benefits of his Son. He did, he gave us unconditional benefits of his Son, that’s what it means,
you remember if you look at Ephesians and those early verses. Ephesians 1:4, “Even as he chose us
in him,” you remember he’s just said in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as
he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before
He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
God did all that before the foundation of the world. So you know, we can’t really say, “Well yes,
he’s going to choose us if we do what he tells us, and if we obey him, and if we believe in him, and
if we’re good children.” No, no before the foundation of the world he chose us in his Son, before
the foundation of the world he made us inside his Son Jesus.
Well really what the Bible says, you remember, in just one chapter later, Ephesians 2:4, “But God,
who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through
our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
I don’t know about you but it struck me, I mean I shouldn’t use this word because this is dreadful,
the guy’s stupid. The dear God is crazy to choose us even when we were dead in our trespasses, and
to put us inside his Son and raise us up with his Son. I mean that’s not just love, that’s crazy
love. I mean to do that for people who have not even declared themselves to you, or if they have if
any of them have declared themselves to you, they’ve declared themselves against you, and you’re
still creating them inside your Son, and you’re destining them to be your children.
That’s silly, especially if it means that you from that moment on are going to be bearing all the
consequences of the ridiculous things that they might chose to do. Now that’s, that’s silly, I mean
they could do anything, they could kill you, they could kill your Son, and your saying your
steadfast love endures forever. But it can’t endure forever, it has to end, you have to stop it
just to protect yourself. You mean you won’t protect yourself? You won’t protect yourself? You
mean you’ll let them nail you, and destroy you? You’ll let them do that to your Son, and you’ll be
inside your Son as they do it?
So you know, as you think it through, as you analyze it, as you go over and over it again in your
head, I used to think the Old Testament is just stupid, it’s just stupid, God say’s, “You must obey
me,” and then he forgives them. “You must obey me,” and then he forgives them. “You must obey me,”
and then he forgives them. I just thought it’s silly, it doesn’t make sense. Until gradually it
came home to me that is what God’s love is. God does love us unconditionally, and he is committed to
us, he will stick with us. He will stick with us beyond the end, and that’s part of what it means,
rooted in love.
Once you begin to appreciate that God has committed himself to you, has put himself at risk for you,
whatever you’re going to do he has committed himself to you, he has said, “Lo I am with you always,
even unto the end of the world. Even though your sins are scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.
Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” When he says that then, you know what can
you say? You have to just say, “I can’t surely be in that position? Surely, surely the dear one
who has made me, surely he has not committed himself to me as irrevocably as that.”
But he has, he has, I’m safe, I’m safe, I am safe, I have nothing to fear, and that’s something you
know of what it means being rooted in love, because that gives you strength and nourishment
yourself. And of course, what it does if you have your eyes open at all, and often I have my eyes
closed, but if you have your eyes open at all you begin to sense then what right have I to be
critical of this person, or that person, or to demand that this friend of mine or this colleague
does this, or to be annoyed with this person because they don’t do that, or to try to impose my
opinion or my will on this person? What right, what reason, have I to do that if my God is ready to
deal with all my own short comings and to counteract them, and to work with them lovingly and
patiently, and to gradually work them into the purpose of his own will?
Then isn’t he going to do the same with all my friends, with all my colleagues, with my relatives,
with my husbands and my wives? Isn’t he going to do that with them and what a self righteous little
creature I am that I should feel I have a right to demand this person to do that, or that person to
do this? And it brings home to you that whole series of I suppose it’s virtues that is mentioned
there in those verses we read from the New Testament lesson that would be good to look at them.
It’s Colossians 3:12, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness,
lowliness, meekness, and patience,” and this one that seems to be so much at the heart of God
himself. “Forbearing on another, forbearing one another,” and you know forbearing means accepting
things from another person without resenting them, and without judging them or criticizing them.
Extending to them a patience that maybe the world does not expect, forbearing one another. Not just
putting up with them but accepting what they say to you and not judging it, and not resenting it.
And if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other as the Lord has forgiven you, so
you also must forgive. “And above all these, put on love which binds everything together in perfect
harmony.” And that’s a little of what means rooted is the old botanic metaphor of the tree and the
roots system, and receiving nourishment from the love of God that surrounds us, and then being
grounded is an architectural metaphor. The structure that you build on or the foundation of that
structure, and it means that it is the foundation on which your life is built, and that we’re meant
to be rooted in God’s love for us.
And then we’re meant to build on that a foundation of our attitude to each other. And there’s only
one expression that is right for our attitude to each other, and that is “if I speak in the tongues
of men and of angels and have not love. Love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful,
it is not irritable or resentful, it is not rude, love bears all things, believes all things,
endures all things.”
And in our own attitudes to each other, I think the heaviness comes because we turn away from the
love that the Father has for us every moment. And so we fail to express positive love to each
other. I think that’s where heaviness comes from really. We always say, “Oh well I feel heavy or
anxious because I’m worried about this or worried about that,” but heaviness comes really from being
preoccupied with ourselves, and taking our eyes off each other. And once you put your eyes back on
each other and sense that, yes you owe only one thing to each other and that is love and
thoughtfulness, and the consideration that makes our own lives possible.
It’s that love and consideration of God for us that enables us to breath another moment, and that’s
why we exist. And you remember that we might live no longer onto ourselves but for him who gave
himself up for us. And the only reason we’re here is for Jesus and for each other, and you get
heavy and you feel a heaviness when you’re preoccupied with yourself.
And it’s the same actually in our own family here, there comes a heaviness when you ignore each
other, when you actually ignore each other, when you take each other for granted, and you regard
each other as bits of furniture. That’s when the heaviness comes in, but as long as you see each
other as part of Jesus and gifts to you, and people to whom you not only owe love, but to whom you
have the pleasure and the satisfaction of giving love, because you actually will be healthy only
when that love of Jesus is flowing through you.
And when you don’t let the love of Jesus flow through you to others then it dams up inside you and
there comes a heaviness in your heart. But it is remarkable how even in the non-spiritual world
people who live for each other are surprisingly happy. We often think, “Why does he live until a
100?” Bob Hope and the dear guy is always, that was his job, to laugh and to smile. So he laughed
and smiled, but he always was kind of out going to others.
And there’s no doubt that it is the old story of the Dead Sea and when the water flows in and
there’s no out flow then it gets salty and bitter, but if the water flows in and there’s outlet then
the water keeps the whole, as in our pond up here, it keeps the old pond from becoming stagnant when
there’s a flow through it. And that’s a little of what it means rooted and grounded in love. Let