I am an Ephesian
So I was talking about Point A and Point B. Point A is the position of every Christian. Free, open, unhindered access to God. Point B is the state of being “filled to the measure with all the fullness of God.” And getting from A to B has to do with “power in the inward parts.” But not simply power–after all, power must be put to use. This power business provokes all kinds of questions among believers. Nobody wants to be powerless, and yet we also fear the abuse of power, the misuse of power. We know for example that there is a power of evil in the world. But Paul explains himself in this prayer quite clearly. In this passage, anyway, it is power to comprehend something. Power to grasp something. We might think of his “renewing the mind” passage from Romans 12. And in this case it’s a power to comprehend, to grasp, the sheer extent (height, depth, length, breadth) of Christ’s love for us, which he says, by the way, is incomprehensible. Ungraspable.
Me, I’m taking it as a given that I don’t grasp it yet. Oh, I get it a little. I’ve got ahold of the hem of his garment, and I have been miraculously healed. I’ve “experienced” the love of Christ in my life, but do I know how long, how wide, how high, how deep that love goes? Of course not. When Christ has passed by, do I want to be left reminiscing about the high point of my life when he was present with me, or do I want to follow hard after? Do I want to be in his presence continually? Do I want to drink in more and more? And Paul says here, I do not want you Ephesians to be at peace with your meager measure of knowledge. I want you to grasp the ungraspable. It will take supernatural power, but I’m praying that for you, because that is the way to “fullness.”
Aside: how much did Peter, just for one example, really grasp it right at first? Did he understand how wide and long and high and deep was the love of Jesus, the one he called Master, right from the start? Did Peter get it – even as much as he ever would – right at the beginning when he first decided to drop everything and follow Jesus? Or did it take him a while? Did it take walking with him, asking him questions, hearing him model prayer, seeing him model love and mercy, sitting at his feet for into-the-night conversations where truth after truth was revealed to him in both majesty and simplicity? That, you might think, should have been enough. But the love of Christ is surpassing. That means it surpasses all our understanding. It surpasses human measurement. There is always more th grasp. There is always the need for another conversation.
And I think of Peter denying Jesus three times, just as the master said he would. And then, later, that moment by the lake, when the risen Jesus said to him, in essence, “You’re still mine, Peter. After all, my love for you is an everlasting love. So feed my sheep.”
When that moment comes when we see our sin and our smallness more clearly and undeniably than we ever had – when we have no excuses and can claim no so-called mitigating circumstances – then we begin to grasp something of the sheer extent of God’s love. Just like Peter.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is going to be a long series of posts, I think, because I’m really meandering! In the future I want to look at these matters more closely:
• access to God
• the wealth of the glory of God
• inward power
• grasping the love of God
• filled to the measure
The love of Christ is surpassing, and it is everlasting. There is a reason we need to understand that better. We’ll be wondering more about that question in future posts. Suffice to say for now: I am an Ephesian.