Summary: In this passage, Paul prays for the impossible - that God would give us the strength to understand the un-understandable love of God!
When our children were smaller we were given lots of childrens books. One of them was called, Guess how much I love you. The book is about 2 hares. One is big and he is called Big Nutbrown Hare. The other is small and is called Little Nutbrown Hare. They are probably a daddy and his son. Little Nutbrown Hare wants to tell Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him. He asks him, Guess how much I love you? Then he opens up his arms and says, this much. Big Nutbrown Hare responds in kind but his arms are bigger. So Little Nutbrown Hare has to beat it. He keeps going on and on with bigger distances, for example, down the road and back etc. And Big Nutbrown Hare responds with bigger expressions of love. Finally it is getting late and dark and the moon rises in the sky. Little Nutbrown Hare says, I love you right up to the moon. With that, Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep and Big Nutbrown Hare replies, I love you right up to the moon - and back.
There are limits to how we can express things in human language. In this cute little kids story the author tries to express the inexpressible. Of course we cant measure love in distance, but distance is something we can relate to, so we try and express it in something that seems so big, that we realise how big this love is.
And today we look at a passage about love. Not the love of hares in a childrens book. Not even the love between parents and children. Not the love between the closest of friends. Not even the love of husband and wife, but about the love of God for us. And in this passage Paul uses language in such a way that goes beyond what language can express, to try and convey what that love is. How amazing is the love of God.
And in fact Paul knows that this love of God is so amazing that it is impossible to describe it with words. So he doesnt tell us directly, but he tells us that he is praying for us. He is praying that we can understand this un-understandable love. For that is the only way we can comprehend it. Through prayer. Through God giving us the power to understand this love. Lets have a look at this prayer.
EPH 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
EPH 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Now this is the second prayer in Ephesians. Remember the first one? It was in Ephesians 1:15-23. Verse 17 says, I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. Paul prays that God would give us wisdom and revelation so that we would know God better. And he continues: 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul prays that God would enlighten us so that we can know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance and His incomparably great power. Remember in first part of chapter one it talks about our spiritual blessings. Do you remember them?
1. vs 4 Chosen to be blameless in His sight.
2. vs 5Adopted as His children.
3. vs 7 Redeemed, forgiven our sins.
4. vs 9-10 The mystery of Gods will revealed to us that all things on heaven and earth will be under Christ - and we will share in that eternally!
But remember back then, we talked about how hard it is to appreciate the spiritual blessings in the rough and tumble of life. In the midst of paying the bills, the mortgage. In the midst of work problems, relationship problems. These seem to overwhelm us. And it is also hard to appreciate spiritual blessings in terms of what we want - a bigger house now, a better car, a more luxurious holiday. They all seem more real that pie in the sky.