Filled to Fullness
We are in a great section today about the love of God. Let me ask you a question.
Are you a loving person? Do people know you care about them. I assume every person wants to be thought of as a loving person.
Are you a loved person? As we think about loving and giving to others, how do we find the ability to love, how do we do it if we ourselves have not been loved? Where do you draw from when you are dry? How do you love your kids when you feel like you can’t tolerate them any longer? How about your sister, your brother, your spouse? What do you do when you are on empty? How do you pour into others when you yourself are empty? How do you recover when you have blown it.
Love is so important for people. Love is one of our most basic and fundamental needs and studies show the damage done when children and infants do are deprived of love or contact. Relationship are destroyed when its missing. Our passage today helps us see how we can be filled full and love others.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)
Three things here abut how we love.
- How we find love
-We find love through Christ. You are grounded and established in love only in Christ. We find salvation in Christ. You know a lot of times Christians focus so much on the need to have salvation in Christ that we don’t realize that it is only in Christ that we learn how to live. The gospel is about salvation but that is not all. We learn how to live and how to love.
When Christ is in us we are rooted in love. We are to know his love. In Christ In his life. In his death. we learn to love.
“Most of us have lacked good models for love. We don’t even know what’s normal anymore. Let me suggest this: The person of Jesus is a plumbline to which we may align our lives. He satisfies our hunger for a hero-- someone who is both good and strong-- to change the world.”
Paul Miller. Love Walked. 18.
We have to look at the right things. In Greek mythology medussa was a monster with snakes for hair that if you looked at she would turn you to stone. There are a lot of things that we turn to and it turns us to stone. If you are seeking love in the wrong things it will turn your heart to stone. Do whatever makes you happy, means I can do whatever I want regardless of how it affects you. Where do you turn to find love?
-Secondly, We find love through prayer. Paul believes people can change, and be changed. Paul believes that people can learn to love. Paul believes that you have not fully found how to love or how much you are loved.
If you have not been loved, think you cannot love, just know that you can change. Stop looking at monsters. That thinking will surely turn your heart to stone. Start looking to Christ.
- What he prays for
This is the second time prays for the people in this book. We are at a turning point in the point. He starts his prayer in 3:1, moves on a tangent about his own life(1-13), and resumes the prayer in v14.
Like the first prayer, there are no mention of change of circumstances, get over a cold, get a new job. Those things wont fill you. Paul knows it. And like the first prayer the focus is for God to do an inner spiritual work among the people.
Paul prays that they might be “strengthened in your inner being.” For Christ to dwell in their hearts, and that they might be able to comprehend the love of God.
We are a materialistic culture. Most people only think about material goods to satisfy them. Work out so that they look good. They think money will solve all their problems, they want to look better, lose weight, get a nice car so others will respect them. The list of things people use to satisfy them is limitless. We neglect our inner person, spiritual needs until we crash. Outwardly your body is like the Rock/JLo but the inner man is built like Barney Fife inwardly you are like Elmer Fudd. Scrooge.
-Might be filled with all the fullness of God. We have spiritual needs, we have spiritual longings and those longings cannot be filled by material goods. It’s like using salt water to quench your thirst. Its eating air. Paul’s knows our greatest needs and he prayers for this for the church.
What does your spiritual diet consist of? A quick perusal here or there. A big mac here and biggie fry there. We are suffocating in life, and there is a good reason. Spend time in God’s word and understanding who he is and what he has done.
-Strengthened to comprehend the height, depth, breadth of the love of God. Do you realize how great the love of God is. Do you realize that it is so great and profound that you need help comprehending it. Sometimes its not that we are not loved, but that we don’t take time to realize it. What Paul is saying is you don’t know how much you are loved!!
I remember the theory of relativity from physics. E=mc^2. I remember having a fuller understanding of that at one point, but even at my best i struggled to comprehend Einsteins theory of relativity. I spent hours trying to understand it. I remember in chemistry studying the different molecular bonds of elements and how their electrons interacted with the electrons of other elements. I worked hard to know those things. I prayed I might know just enough to pass my midterm. I remember learning about the chemical reactions in the body, the sodium potassium gradient in which electrical impulses travel through the body in spit seconds. Those things fascinated me, captivated me, and no matter how much I studied I could not fully understand. Do you realize the love of God is the same way. It is so deep it is so profound, it is so wide.
If you don’t spend time each week contemplating it, then you don’t understand. You cheapen God’s love because you don’t really understand.
We have a superficial culture. You see images everywhere but there is little depth to those pictures. See a couple out to eat at a restaurant, and thats all there is. One of my favorite things to do in DC was go to the National Art Gallery, and my favorite genre of art was the realist paintings of the 19th century. You look at a picture of house on a farm, and you see the house, and the farm, then wow! You see the texture of the hair on the horse. The shadows on every tree perfectly matches the other trees and even the shadow on the house. but then you start to look closer and you see people on the farm and you see their faces, their eyes. Each person has a different expression on their faces. Difference in a snap shot and a masterpiece. The gospel is God’s masterpiece. Do you see if for that.
It is not just intellectual knowledge, it is experiential and requires a personal acquaintance with the revealer. There is always more to know. It is inexhaustible. We have to go from a analysts to a poet.
-Christ died for our sins. Have you ever had a relationship broken in your life. That person did something that you didn’t like and so you stopped talking to them. You wanted nothing to do with them. And you were totally justified to do that.
Now consider this. Consider all the things you have done that God told you not to do. Consider that his holiness demands that for even one of those you deserve his judgement. And if you think that is harsh, again, just consider how you have cast others off for so much less. And when considering your punishment against God, and how your sins, which are many, infinite, and they deserve an infinite punishment. And yet God loved you and gave himself for you. Have you ever been loved like that by any other? Has any other known all your sins, all your faults, all your shortcomings, and said I still love you.
The things you have done that if others knew would be shameful to you and no other would want to be around you because of it. God takes your shames and restores your honor.
Can you grasp it. So that you might grasp, with all the saints. Big ball used on soccer field. Kids would stretch their hands out and no matter how far they pushed their fingers they could not get it. Kids would look up and just say wow! Sometimes it would roll toward them and they would run up and jump into it and it would just steam roll them. The width, and length, and depth were too much for them.
You may have experienced objects like that. Have you ever experienced a love like that. A love that you could not reach the end of. A love you could not reach the bottom. A love you could not go high enough to overcome. A love that would not let you overcome it.
What if your life were controlled by a love so powerful. Paul wants this love to control them. For Christ to take up residence in your hearts. Would be an appropriate prayer for new Christian. Paul prays this for his friends and fellow members of his church.
Paul prayers that the Spirit may take up residence in their heart. This is the idea of the spirit coming into your life and living there. Not just a neighbor who comes by for a brief stay, hangs out, and doesn’t really change things because he knows he won’t be there long. This is someone dwelling, moving in. This is like you mother-in-law moving in to the house, and since she is going to be there awhile she is going to get comfortable. You come down and all the sudden the fridge is rearranged because she likes that ketchup with the mustard on this side and the eggs over here, and not only is it rearranged but dont mess it up!!
The spirit comes into our lives, when we understand the love of God shown to us, and he dwells, and he isn’t going to leave our lives in the same mess it was in before.
This is why some people get uncomfortable talking about grace and love, or their experience of grace personally. Because if it is true, they ought to return the same love, and they don’t want to do that. Like in the movie where someone says I love you and the other is like “hey lets see whats on tv.” They don’t want to have to love others the way Christ calls them to. That means you are not following Christ. If Christ has not changed who you love and how you love then you actually oppose Christ.
“Anything that demands a depth of attention-- something like a work of art, a novel, or even a substantive conversation with another human being-- exposes our humanity and forces us to reckon with the malaise of disenchantment.”
What we most need is spirit given strength in our inner being. What is love without the depth, without excitement. The exuberance. It’s like basketball without a basket. Water without the wetness. It’s a contradiction in terms, just like a Christians without a love for God.
Do you ever take time to study his love. You see it all over the Bible. God loves his people in the desert by providing for the needs and sustaining them. David experienced God’s love even after committing adultery and losing a child. Jermiah experienced God’s love even when his city was destroyed. People experienced Jesus love in his teaching, in him healing their illnesses,
“And it is in the midst of trials when all around us gives way and billows of trials crash into our lives-- when we are left with nothing more than our faith, our Christ, and our Bibles-- that we see with unclouded vision just how tightly we cling by faith. Suffering proves the reality of grace in our lives, because it strips away all the worldly comforts and securities, trials will expose those false supports.” Reinke. Newton 190.
Safe haven. Secure base.
My kids think they need things they don’t really need. I think I need things I don’t really need. I say God I want you to love me this way. He has loved me in the most remarkable way already. I just need my eyes open to it.
- Who he prays to. Turn to the Father of All
Prays to the father. Means we are to trust with the confidence of children. He is the father of all, all other fatherhood is patterned after. He prays to a Father that can act. To this father Paul directs his prayer on behalf of those who have become members of his family in Christ.
A father your respect greatly. Paul bows his knee in prayer. We pray with humility and our heads down. We pray to a father who loves us. We do not demand, we ask with reverence.
He is the one that can do far more than all we ask or think. That is our Father. He loves to surprise us. He is saying you underestimate God continually. Its in his nature to do more than we can imagine. Here the focus is on a spiritual work. But knowing who he is should lead us to ask big things. Do you live like your heavenly father is about to do something awesome. That he wants to
He will be glorified in the church and in Christ. God is glorified through the reconciling work of Christ, he is glorified in the church because they are the one redeemed by Christ, and who treasure his love so much they abandon all the idols of the world and serve him alone. Once again in Ephesians there is a great connection to the work of Christ and
In Christ you are loved and in Christ you know how to love. The question is do you see it. You can close your eyes but the sun still shines. You need to open them and take it all in.
“The way you know you’re born again is both your mind is illumined and your heart is moved and spiritual truth you might have heard before but didn’t make sense to your mind or didn’t touch your heart now does.”
Do you know him, do you know his love, and do you know he wants to do more than you can think or imagine? Are you living like this? Are you fulled up or on fumes?
Stop looking for other things to fill you. STop dodging the love of God.
Do you love him. Do you love him. Do you love him. When Jesus appeared to peter after his crucifixion, after he gave his life on the cross for Peters sins. Jesus asked Peter 3 times. Do you love me.
The gospel is not just an entry point to the Christian faith, it is the source of all we do each and every day.
That’s a question for each of us today. do you love him. I know you know about going to church, being a good Christian. but I want to know if you know his love. If you have been changed by it. If you view it differently. If you love to be with him. If you love talking about him. If you love the things he loves and if you look forward to the things he has called you to. Like a young couple looks on each others, talks about the things the other enjoys.