Summary: Do we know the love of Christ?
“Far Beyond All We Could Ask”
The main theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is that there is no nation, no family, no person—no matter who they are, what they have done, where they come from that is beyond the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!!!
This might sound like an obvious claim to some, to be said in a church on a Sunday morning.
But, maybe it isn’t as obvious as it seems.
For some of us here, this could very well be a difficult concept.
There might be folks in this room who are dealing with any number of secret hurts, private shames, and lost hopes.
Some of us may be struggling to trust in God as we age, our hair turns gray and our faces wrinkle.
Others, may have a difficult time because of the temptations they face.
Young people might feel such pressure to “fit-in,” and may be dealing with such low self-esteem due to bullying and “buying into” the falsehoods others heap upon them that the Loving God may seem too far out of reach.
What are you dealing with this morning?
What is attacking and choking your joy?
What is causing the air to deflate from life?
What is making it hard to be joyful?
I was speaking with my sister Lisa recently, and we were discussing the “aging issue.”
Lisa said, “I like being older because I don’t have to deal so much with insecurities.
I used to feel as if other people had ‘one up’ on me.
Now I know that is not true and we are all in the same boat.”
In our Scripture Passage from Ephesians, Paul says that in his prayers for this young church he asks God that “Christ will live in [their] hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love.”
And this is sort of a way of confessing the truth—to God and to one another—that we are really at risk of living lives that are rooted and grounded in fear and self-preservation instead.
And to live lives like that is miserable indeed.
You could say that Paul’s prayer for the Church in Ephesus, is a prayer that they would be taken over by Christ!
He prays that they will be strengthened in their “inner selves”—from the inside out—by the power of God’s Spirit.
This isn’t a matter of them making themselves stronger, but becoming stronger by having Jesus Christ live in their hearts.
Paul prays for them to understand something which is beyond all knowledge—the vastness of the love of Jesus Christ—so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God.
So the entire issue boils down to allowing Jesus Christ into our lives to change us.
And having Jesus Christ live in our hearts is kind of similar to having a new person move into your household.
Think about it, if someone is just visiting, it’s a pretty easy situation.
You just be hospitable for a bit and have good manners.
Then you can go back to life as usual in a couple days after they leave.
But if someone moves in to stay, everything changes!!!
Sure, at first you might try and hold onto your normal patterns of living and routines, and the new member of the household might work hard to stay out of the way.
But eventually they make their mark.
Conversations start to change.
Household tasks change and responsibilities shift.
And this is what it’s like when Jesus moves into the hearts of people.
It’s not just a matter of tweaking old ways of living; everything changes!!!
Eugene Peterson’s The Message puts it like this: “I ask [God] to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.”
Writer Anne Lamott tells about her profound experience of having Jesus Christ come and live in her.
She was unmarried, pregnant, and decided to have an abortion.
She coped with pain in her usual way, by smoking dope and getting drunk.
But when she started hemorrhaging a week later, she sobered up fast!!!
And it was that night that she became aware of Someone in the room with her.
She writes, “The feeling was so strong that I actually turned on the light for a moment to make sure no one was there—of course, there wasn’t.
But after a while, in the dark again, I knew beyond any doubt that it was Jesus.”
She says that in her circle of family and friends, nobody was a Christian.
They were all kind of like the people living in Ephesus: worldly, sophisticated, and in need of no one but themselves.
But still, writes Lamott, Jesus stayed in the corner, “watching me with patience and love, and I squinched my eyes shut, but that didn’t help because that’s not what I was seeing Him with.”