Updated: Feb 4, 2019
We covered two chapters on Sunday, so if you've not done so already, you might like to go back and catch Ephesians 2: "No longer strangers and aliens".
We continued our study of Ephesians by heading straight into Ephesians 3, which picks up the theme of unity from chapter two, but goes somewhere quite unexpected before taking something of a digression.
I find verse ten bewildering but fascinating. "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." Who exactly are we revealing God’s wisdom to? Is it the angels? They are closer to God than us, but perhaps there is still something they can learn from the way God works through the church. Or is it the other side? They are surely in greater need of God, but why exactly does he wish to reveal his wisdom to them. To show them what they have lost? Or is God’s plan for salvation so complete that even evil will be redeemed? I don’t know what this verse means, but I do know that I feel a thrill of excitement whenever I consider that God’s grace may extend even to those who have rejected him and frustrated his plan since the beginning.
That is something of an aside however, as what I really want to focus on is the prayer in the final six verses. "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
What a beautiful thing to pray for anyone, that they may know the fullness of God’s love. What a beautiful thing we might pray for one another. And it is such an important prayer, because just as I couldn’t tell you last week how you might experience the Spirit, so I cannot tell you this week how you will experience God’s love. I can only speak of my own experience and pray that you have your own.
On that first point, I offer something I wrote nearly four years ago now. I’ve not been able to put it better since. I have been trying to describe to myself what it feels like to experience the presence of God, and I had the most profound sense of it being like looking at someone you love and seeing their love for you written across their face as plain as day. Like the surge of joy that comes when their heart speaks to yours, and you understand how truly and deeply you are loved and wanted. Like knowing in every moment and every atom of your being that they love you, but just for a moment that love filling you so that it is the only thing that matters. Sometimes it is the most perfect sense of calm, and sometimes it is energy coursing through you like electricity. Sometimes it is a sense of things falling into place, and sometimes it is a righteous fury against all that is still wrong in the world. But just sometimes it is all the love in the world being lavished on you by the one who knows you best and loves you all the same.
And on the second point, I encouraged you to give space to listen to the Spirit last week, and I want to encourage you to give some space to open yourself to know God’s love now. Verse twenty says that God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine, and so on Sunday we listened to Rend Collective's Immeasurably More, as a way of giving us that space. You might like to choose another song that you find speaks of God's love, or you might like to simply sit in quiet and invite God to join you, or you might like to do something else entirely. Whatever you choose, I pray that being rooted and established in love, you will have a sense of how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.