“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power 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, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
~ Ephesians 3.14-19, NRSV
For all of persons’ disagreements with the apostle Paul, we cannot discount this very powerful prayer that is recorded in the letter to the church at Ephesus. It is a conversation with God that should be shared with all believers as Paul repositions us, reminding us that no matter what we call ourselves or the names that others have given us, no matter our lineage or its legacy, we take our name from God who is our Creator. No name is greater or lesser, more valuable or worthy of scorn because ultimately, we have the same name. And it is a name that we did not create and thus, can take no credit for.
Paul prays for the reader and so he is praying for us more than two thousand years later. It is a prayer that is based not on his strength or ours but is rendered because of the goodness of God. He asks for this power in our inner being because we need it. While it is true that we live in a pluralist society where all faiths attempt to dwell peaceably, we, as Christians, must submit our inner beings to one divine authority.
We must make a decision, choose each day whom we will serve and we cannot serve two masters (Joshua 24.15; Matthew 6.24). We must not live as if we should apologize for the declarations of Christ. He said, “I am the Way” and we don’t have to defend or prove it. We need only believe it. The problem lies in the fact that we really don’t. Our inner beings and likewise, our witness as disciples of Jesus Christ has been weakened by compromise and hypocrisy. We are doubleminded, no longer fully persuaded by the promises of God and this is why we need to be strengthened (James 1.8; Romans 4.21).
Paul prays that Christ live in our hearts, the place often associated with love and its symbol. He says that we are being rooted in love and grounded in love. Paul says that we are being fixed in love, founded in love, built upon love. Love will be the source of our stability and our foundation.
And we need the power to understand this love. It is not enough to have this love or to know who the God of love is but we need to be able to comprehend its vastness in order to appreciate it. Do we know the breadth and length and height and depth of this love? It is oxymoronical in its existence in that it is a knowing that surpasses our own knowledge. We cannot come to know this love on our own or a part from the revelation of Jesus Christ as it certainly not revealed to us through race, which attempts to limit God’s love to those we want to see and touch, to those who live in our community and country, to those who are on the same rung of the social and economic ladder.
So, if we have received Christ as our Lord and personal Savior, why are we not known by and for our love as his disciples? Why is it so hard to love others, even believers, those who we believe to be in the family of God? Why can’t we come together to express our love for God in worship and in service? Perhaps, it is a matter of fullness.
It seems that after more than 2,000 years, the Church is not filled with the presence, power and agency of God. We practice God’s presence when it best suits and benefits us. We trust in God’s power when our own attempts have failed. We serve only those that we choose though participating in the ministry of Christ. These truths have cracked the vessel and has weakened the presence, power and agency of God within us. Race and its progeny have broken our spiritual fellowship and created cracks. But, it is my prayer that God will fill us in and fill us up. Amen.