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Have you ever had the experience of beginning to understand love on a different level? When we awaken to how we are loved by others it is often a humbling, enriching, and important experience. It almost always increases our confidence, assurance, self-esteem – and it gives us a freedom to be what we need to be. In today’s passage, Paul’s prayer for these Christians is that they comprehend the love and grace and mercy of God.
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-21
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I 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, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
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Additional Background Information
Nikki shares some of her sources for inspiration and study as she develops her video script.
Awareness of Love
One of the first things I noticed about this passage is that it is a prayer. It was a prayer by the author for the early Christians. We can hear in his words how desperately he wants them to understand something that is unable to be understood. He reminds them that the depth and breadth of God’s love is incomprehensible. And yet, he prays that God, who is able to do all things, find a way to work within them to help them become aware of this deep and abiding love.
As I consider these thought’s from our author, I am struck that the people are not the ones doing something to be made more aware of God’s love. Rather, he prayed that God does the work inside of the these people so they can know God more deeply and more intimately. We do not transform ourselves. There is nothing we do do to make change happen in us. God is the one who does this transformation. God is the one who makes change happen in our souls and in our hearts. This is how the Christian life works. God is the one who changes us by the power of his deep and abiding love.
It is only when we surrender to and trust the love of God that such amazing transformations can happen. God’s love is the most powerful force in the world capable of changing us in ways that we never though imaginable. Part of the Christian life is finding a way to trust God’s love enough to let it do it’s work in us.
Another part of this author’s prayer is a request that God strengthen these men and women of the early church with power through the Holy Spirit. This is a spiritual strength that these believers need to trust God’s work in their lives.
If I were going to lead this lesson, I would look for ways to encourage the group to tell stories about times they have been transformed by love. When we hear the stories of others, we can find ourselves in them. And when we are reminded of the ways that acts of love have transformed us, we can be more open to the ways that love is reaching out to transform us now.
Looking for more insight on this session? Check out our podcast.
Nikki’s Video Script
Today, we are finishing up our work in Paul’s letter to Ephesus as we look at Ephesians 3:14-21. We have discussed some how this is one of the letters that may have been written by a disciple of Paul’s rather than Paul himself; but to simplify things, I will refer to the author as Paul.
As we have worked our way through this book we have noticed how beautiful and lofty the language is that Paul uses and today’s text is no different. The only difference is that in these verses he is speaking to God rather than to the people.
Today’s passage is Paul’s prayer for the people at Ephesus and we can learn a lot about Paul’s theology and what he wanted for these people by overhearing this prayer.
Have you ever had the experience of beginning to understand love on a different level?
Maybe a parent did not punish you for something you did and instead showed you compassion and love.
Perhaps a friend did something for you that you new was a big deal and you thought, “wow! he/she really loves me.”
Or a spouse put your needs over their needs in a really significant way and you began to understand at a new level just how much they love you.
For those of you who are parents, there is that moment when you realize just what your parents felt for you as you began to feel that love that only a parent can have for a child.
When we awaken to how we are loved by others it is often a humbling, enriching, and important experience. It almost always increases our confidence, assurance, self-esteem – and it gives us a freedom to be what we need to be. When I was a teenager, my parent’s would always tell me that I could use her if there was some event I was invited to that I didn’t feel comfortable going to. Let’s say I was invited to a party and I knew somethings would be going on I didn’t want to be a part of, but didn’t want to look like I didn’t fit in by saying so – I could say, “my mom won’t let me go and act like I really hated it.” My parent’s love for me gave me a safe space to land, and a freedom and confidence to do and be who I really wanted to be.
In today’s passage, Paul’s prayer for these Christians is that they comprehend the love and grace and mercy of God. Now, he admits that in reality this is truly an impossibility – yet he prays for it anyway. He prayers that first they would be granted “strength in their inner being with power through God’s Spirit”. This kind of power that Paul is talking about is not the kind of power in which we have power over another – rather it is the kind of power that give a person an inner strength and confidence – much like what my parent’s gave me.
Next he prayers that this same power grant them the ability to comprehend the “breadth and length and height and depth of God and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Paul wants us to comprehend the incomprehensible. And because he knows that we really cannot comprehend it he goes on to pray to God who “is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” If we can imagine it – God can do more. God can do the seemingly impossible.
Paul wanted these Christians at Ephesus to grasp how much God loves them because he knows that when we can begin to do that we develop the inner strength, confidence, assurance, and power to do what we are called to do and be who are called to be. The awareness of being loved is a powerful gift. It is worth it for us to take time to experience and think on the ways that God loves us. Ultimately, God is the one who makes that awareness grown within us, but we have to make the space for that awareness to grow. As we do become more aware of height and depth and breadth of God’s love for us, we will grow in our maturity as people of faith and we will find a freedom in the assurance of a safe space and soft place to land.