Ephesians 3: 14 – 21.
Squeezed in between his theological exposition of redemptive blessings and the practicality of the Christian walk is the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian congregation. His intercessory supplication of experiencing the intense tangible reality of Yahweh’s love with an expectant crucial facetious proviso, that Christ has been dwelling in them (Eph 3:16-17; c.f., Rom 8:9-11; Col 2:9-10), transitioned his readers into the pragmatic realm of church life. All believers are cognizant that God loves them, but they may not necessarily know the love of God; having not comprehended its breadth, its length, its height and its depth (Eph 3:18-19). It is critical to appreciate Paul’s combination of theological and emotional descriptions of experiencing Yahweh’s agape, as he did not attempt to dichotomize them, the rational from the emotive but maintained a balance in his spiritual grasp of agape. In addition, the total appreciative embrace of God’s love involved the total spiritual community in Christ. It is a corporate experience by the church, where an individual’s manifest finite encounter with God’s love is never detached from the worldwide Body of Christ. Furthermore, to recognise our Creator’s purpose in salvation is to acknowledge that His expressed desire is for us to overtly live a life of visibly demonstrating His love to our broken world (c.f., Eph 3:20-21).
What does the Apostle’s sensory semantic, “to grasp with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” imply? (Eph 3:18). The use of the awkward spatial dimensions to define the indescribable divine love (viz., agape) was an attempt to contain a Divine trait within finite human language: the verb ‘to grasp’ is ‘to seize, to lay hold of, or to have power to completely understand’ together with all of God’s people as they encounter Christological love (c.f., Psalm 119:103; Acts 10:34). Paul was forthright in stating that God’s love is capable of being sensed. In fact, any statement or spoken piece of information carries a sensation (viz., a consciousness, a perception, an awareness) in our heart, and it is normally emotive. Hence, the ‘sensation’ of agape once experienced, brings us into an appreciative dimension of the reality of being incorporated into the Body of Christ comprehending the totality of His love for His creation.
Sensing that one is loved is a key human need for healthy growth, how much more so when it comes to Yahweh’s agape. God is Love, and we who desire to know this Love ought to be seeking after God; that He would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith … (Eph 3:16-19). The focus here is our dynamic relationship with the Creator, to be subject to the presence of Christ intimately within our spirit. It is about purposefully meditating on the profound truth of the Gospel message, where the one sacrifice for sin was made by the God’s Son for all mankind eternally (Rom 5:12-21; Rev 5:9) and thereby experiencing His love. And to be captivated by His defining glory to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in His community and before everyone, for to be enthralled by His glory is to be subsequently fearless in the face of all that is earthy and transient.
Communion with God is nothing less than being overwhelmed by the riches of His glorious presence; His majesty, holiness, and almighty power. In Paul’s view, as we draw close to Him, He will prepare us spiritually as He engages us (Eph 3:16; James 4:8). This intentional process of communing with God follows on from the interior work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we seek to walk with Him. I do not think as humans we will ever possess the language to describe the reality of God’s love as it courses its way through our hearts; Paul portrayed it as surpassing our finite knowledgeable understanding. The Apostle in his Epistle to the Corinthian Church aptly described this testimony as (2Cor 3:2-3), “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” In a nutshell, designating us, with all the implications of His Father’s agape, that we are IN CHRIST!