And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.(Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV)
Today’s passage is the continuation of the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (and us).
In yesterday’s prayer, Paul asked the Lord to strengthen the Ephesian believers through the Holy Spirit so that they would put down deep roots in Christ, so that nothing would be able to uproot their faith when the storms of life come.
Today, Paul prays that those deep roots in Christ would draw upon His life-giving power to grasp how much God loves us.
Paul reminds us that God’s love is a verb – it is God’s power in action for His glory, and for His work in us.
Paul also reminds us that God’s love surpasses what we know, and has the power to change our lives, if we will let Him. Why was this important? Why did Paul say this?
Paul understood the culture he and the Ephesians lived in, and he also understood human nature. Let’s look at each one separately.
First, let’s look at the culture in place during Paul’s life. Greek and Roman thought ruled the day. Ideas, theories, concepts, and other abstract thought processes were the norm. This was in contrast to Middle Eastern (including Jewish) thought, which focused on concrete realities of living life. Paul used the Middle Eastern mindset to remind the Ephesians that while the Greek thought processes might contemplate what God’s love might be, or could be, or even might include, he wanted to tell the Ephesians about the reality of God and His love for them, and His actions on their behalf.
Secondly, let’s look at human nature. Paul knew all about theory and head knowledge. He also knew about reality, and how our hearts and souls function. Paul understood that the Ephesians needed more of the reality of God’s love than the theory or feeling of God’s love. When the storms of life come our way, we lean on what we can trust, what we know we can rely on, what has worked before.
So let’s walk through an example of these two contrasting approaches. If you are starving, out of work, and have nowhere to live, and I come along and tell you that God loves you, then walk away, or even stop and pray for you before leaving, that does not help your situation. God’s love is just abstract knowledge or theory at that point. But if I tell you that God loves you, and then proceed to get you a meal, a place to stay, and help you find a job, then that is God’s love in action. That is the concrete reality of God’s love demonstrated in your life.
Paul tells us that God has the resources of heaven and the universe at His disposal to put love in action for us. His prayer is that we would comprehend just how large God’s love is, and in so doing it would change our lives forever.
May we be in jaw-dropping wonder of His love for us, and step into the fullness and reality of what that means for us daily.
For His glory,