For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
With this prayer, Paul wraps up one large section on what God has done for us in the gospel and who the church is. Now, Paul turns his attention to encouraging and urging the church to be and live in accordance with their calling. Before he does that, he prays for us to know God’s love.
This is quite the prayer. Quite the sentiment. The sort of thing that you put on coffee cups, that your grandmother puts on a pillow, and that you post on your bathroom mirror. It’s poetic.
Often we can read the Bible, and in this case this rich letter to the Ephesians, and say, “Yeah, neat…‘Know the surpassing love of Jesus,’ that’s great, but when will I get better friends, go on good vacations, or live ‘the good life’?” Or we could think, “That’s a cool prayer, for God to dwell richly within me, but when is my boss going to get off my back?” We might even be in moments of great pain in our lives and read this passage and jolt, “Sure, I could be filled with the fullness of God, but when will God heal me?” However, this is the prayer and anthem of the Church: knowing God is the greatest reward.
This prayer is the prayer. This is the vision of every church at all times. It’s the vision of Christ for His Church that you—and every other believer—would be strengthened, empowered, and filled with the fullness of Christ. This is the main thing happening in your life. This is the main thing happening in my life. This is what God is doing. This prayer is about Revival. Renewal. Resurrection.
Jonathan Edwards said this about revival: “The true signs of revival in an individual, city, or church are when people are changed at the heart level.”
Honestly, this is what I see God doing in the midst of churches all over the world. Let’s not get distracted. God is changing our hearts and making us more like him. Replacing selfishness with patience. Ego with love. Anxiety with peace. Lust with freedom. Loneliness with God’s presence. Let’s not lower our expectations for what God might do, but raise them.
Who wants to know the surpassing greatness of God’s love? Who wants to know the fullness of God within them? Who wants to live in the power that raised Jesus from the dead? To see doubt moved to confidence? And even after all of those things, to walk away knowing that God could do far more than even that!
This is an excerpt from our newest resource, Ephesians: How Jesus Creates a New People in a New World. This study is designed to help missional communities engage the Scriptures together; you can begin reading the first chapter now.