Our Quintessential Intimate Relationship With God.
Ephesians 3: 14 – 21.
Some commentators considered this prayer as a continuation of Paul’s earlier petition (Eph 1:15-23), before his digression into elaborating the significance of being in Christ, together with the motivation for his own stewardship of the gospel. This explanatory interregnum was, however, critical in laying a foundation for what he was about to address. He then progressed into his prayer, projecting a majestic profundity of God’s relational intent with man. Our humanity, more often than not, just simply does not permit us to earnestly fathom the grandeur of Paul’s reflections here, or I should denote, Yahweh’s thoughts of the full import of our status of being made alive in Christ; where with Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith would entail our being able to grasp the completeness of His love in His community, and to be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17,19). Lest we are mistaken, these descriptors are not about our status in heaven, but on earth. Here is a conundrum of epic proportions that would challenge most believers: why would Paul pray for the Ephesian believers’ positional stance in Christ, when it is a foregone conclusion that every Christian is already in Christ? (c.f., John 14:23; Rom 8:9; Rom 1-17; Col 2:9-10).
Paul surmised that there was an obvious dichotomy among the Ephesians, between knowing their position in Christ, and yet not enjoying its relational intimacy and power. Without battering an eyelid, he blatantly pointed to three presumptuous qualities that they ought to give unqualified attention to in his supplication: that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith; that they know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; and, that they may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17,19). As Paul seemed to normalize the believers’ experiential communion with God in tangible reality, certainly beyond just pure emotionalism, we are reminded of Jesus’ parable illustrating His Father’s practical display of pure emotions towards His prodigal son, where His presence, love and glorious celebration over his returning forgiven son, exemplified profoundly the intimate depth of our redeemed association with the Almighty (cf., Luke 15:11-32).
Is there a prerequisite for this cherished degree of fellowship? Paul’s reply was unequivocally positive, with a proviso; the initiative comes from God as He strengthens the believer with power through His Spirit in his spiritual man (Eph 3:16). Our impediment has always been our preoccupation with issues and objects other than God Himself; where a divided heart always compromises our journey with Him, leading inevitably to a lukewarm response towards our First Love. We, therefore, forgo the fulfilment of the riches of His glory in us, and this spirals down to an inability in comprehending with the saints what is the breadth, the length, the height and the depth of Christ’s love (Eph 3:1; Eph18-21). When God revives the human heart, we will instinctively be sensitised in our special relationship with Him, and would prioritise it thereafter. This appreciable goal is rarely an overnight occurrence, but an uphill process for most of us, where the first step may be a disciplined love for and meditation over His Word. Was this what David meant when he meditated day and night in the law of the Lord (Ps 1:2; c.f., Ps 119:97), when the truth of His presence, love and power no longer remains theoretical concepts but becomes a reality in our experience with our Lord and His people.