As we saw last time, there is a breadth to the love of Christ as it extends to all men; there is also a length that is as immeasurable as its breadth. As we meditate upon what is the length of the love of Christ, we will consider length as a property of distance and time.
Perhaps the Apostle Paul used length to evoke the idea of the reach of God’s mercy over a long distance. Though a child of God, for and by sin, might be driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you (Deut 30:4). While it might be an accurate assessment of man in his finiteness, that your arms too short to box with God, we read in Scripture that the arm of the Lord is never too short that it cannot save (Gen 18:14, Num 11:23, Is 50:2, 59:1). Have you an arm like God? Job asks (Job 40:9). At times, conditions might even cause a man of God to sense that he is afar off from God, feeling as though God cannot help him in his miserable state – as the Psalmist cries: Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? (Ps 22:1). But God has a long arm which reaches further than we think. He could reach Jonah in the belly of the fish; and David exclaimed, “if I make my bed in hell, behold you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Ps 139:8-10). How this truth of the length of Christ’s love is an encouragement to pray for those who are yet far from God. Think of a person who appears furthest from God’s saving grace – and pray for that person, that the arm of God’s mercy would reach down even to them and take out their stony heart and put in a heart of flesh. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD! Awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. (Is 51:9).
There is another characteristic associated with length that we will consider under the heading of the length of Christ’s love; it is its length in time. In John 13:1 it says of Christ, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. God’s love for His own began in the days of eternity past, when He set His love upon us. “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thes 1:4; see also Ps 33:12, 65:4, Eph 2:4-5, Col 3:12, 2 Thess 2:13-16, 2 Tim 1:9). But then also, God’s love for his own, also has no future end. I have loved YOU with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness (Jer 31:3). But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him (Ps 103:17). Consider what the following verses promise about the future length of God’s commitment of love toward you who trust in Him: Rom 16:25, 1 Cor 1:8, 2 Cor 1:21, 1 Thess 3:3-4, 13, 1 Peter 5:10-11, Jude 24-25.