Summary: What God wants to do for those who he fixes by the blood of Jesus Christ
14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Ephesians 3:14 - 21 (NRSV)
Concerning the number of times my parents had to have some of my limbs and extremities X-Rayed, I’m not entirely certain what the final count was of bones broken, or not broken. I do know there were prayers being offered. Some of the prayers were petitions that God might spare me further agony; some were that the cost of a cast or surgery might not keep us from having Christmas presents (those were from my brother), and I’m sure there were a few that I might have more sense about playing football next year!
It makes a difference how you get along if you’re not broken. Annie, the wonder-dog lets us live at her house. A few weeks ago she got so excited when Elizabeth returned from shopping that she tried to do what 90 year old dogs shouldn’t do – she jumped off the patio! She went down like a bean bag, all fours spread-eagled like a limp rag. She’s been limping ever since!
Now, what’s true in the physical world is often true of spiritual issues. Last week’s text led us to Paul’s holding up Jesus as “our peace”. Peace is the opposite of chaos, when things are broken. Peace is putting back together that which was broken. It’s the Humpty Dumpty reality of every child of God. We come to God all broken and pulled apart by our sin; we hold ourselves up like a toddler comes to Mom with her broken doll.
If we could look at our inside brokenness on a spiritual X-Ray, we could understand that we don’t really know how to fix ourselves, and all the things we try – drugs, material things, bad relationship and sexual practices – only break us more.
This is the essence of Paul’s prayers for the folks at Ephesus. He reminds them in chapter two that they were far from God, broken and pulled apart. But God has healed their brokenness in Jesus Christ; he has brought them into the kingdom and drawn them close like chicks gathered into the safety of a mother hen’s embrace.
And now God wants them strong, overflowing with his grace by the power of his own Holy Spirit, overwhelmed with love from Christ dwelling in their hearts, and experiencing every possible measure of what it means to be loved by God, so that they can love others the same way. It’s unimaginable, but Paul prays big for people he loves. And Paul believes it will show up in their lives.
Let’s unpack that prayer a bit; here’s what Paul (and God) want for you and me, and every person on earth:
1. Whole and Strong
16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
Strengthened with power is the word “dunamis”; we hear the word dynamite. Paul wants the overwhelming dynamic strength of God’s glory to be active in our lives. But he prays for it to be on the inside, the inner being…spiritual strength.
In our world it seems everything is based upon the outward appearance, not inner. Young girls jump through all the latest fad “hoops” just to look attractive. That’s anything but authentic. When you ignore the inner self in favor of presenting a sensuous, lust-creating appearance, you’re prostituting away the best part of you; you exchange real life for an existence built on sand.
To be strengthened in the inner being is to be integrated, congruent, and whole; it’s when the inner character is so “together” that it shows through to the outside. In the terms of authentic wannabe’s of the 1960’s – What you see is what you get!
God is that way – He’s authentic. Scripture says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Authentic means you’re who God created you to be because you are allowing God’s Spirit to control your life. You’re the same on the inside as the outside.