Written By: Crystal Cyr Based on: Ephesians 3
As I was studying this chapter I noticed that the beginning verses through to verse 11 are a bit of a summary of the last chapter and seeing as we focused on that in great depth previously; this blog post will be focused more on verses 12 to the end of the chapter. (Insert plug here to read the last post on Chapter 2 if you haven’t already. hee hee 😉 ) Although Paul does add that basically he is honored that God would choose him to spread this Good News as he is least deserving, (I can totally relate to that feeling!), yet another reminder that God doesn’t choose us based on our qualifications, but rather because He wants to show Himself strong in our weaknesses.
In verse 12 we see that because of Christ we can be bold and confident in God’s presence; this is because as we learned in Chapter 1, we are accepted and loved. Skip down to verse 16 and we are reminded that we have access to unlimited resources in Christ and inner strength because His Spirit lives in us. More amazing news again! 🙂
Verse 17 says, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Notice that it says that Christ makes His home in our hearts as we trust Him…that implies that there is room for Him to “settle in” to our hearts. How much Christ makes Himself at home in our heart is up to us; for some He may only be a house guest, for others He might be like a boarder…invited to move in and live there but with conditions and limited access to certain rooms…or, and this is the best…He could be completely at home with no restrictions to any areas of our heart and as much rights and say to matters in the home as the owner. Isn’t that amazing?!
So the second part of that verse says that for us to stay strong, our roots need to grow deep, like a tree, down into the soil of God’s love. We’ll only go as deep in Christ as we allow Him to go deep (or become at home) in us. The next few verses tell us how to grow deep in the love of God; the first way, by understanding His love with our minds, and the second way by us experiencing His love.
Practically speaking, what does it look like for us to understand God’s love with our minds and how do we cultivate that? I believe we can do this in three basic ways; firstly being that we can read about His love in His written word the Bible, secondly, we can hear about His love from other’s…this is why community and authentic relationships are so important in the body of Christ…we are built up from being real with one another about our struggles and victories, and the third way we can understand God’s love is by thinking about those things that we’ve heard and read. The more we think on these things the more we allow room for the Holy Spirit to unpack an understanding in our hearts which leads to a change in our beliefs.
Experiencing God’s love is the other half of how we dig our roots down deep. So how do we experience His love? That can seem like a way out-there concept…easy to say but how do we practically do that? Well, I thought of it in terms of a relationship with a friend or a spouse; that individual could show all the love they want in every single one of the five love languages, but if my heart is closed towards that person than it doesn’t matter what they say or do, I will refuse to receive that love.
So what does it look like to have an open heart, what does that mean? Having an open heart simply means that you are being real with yourself and God about what’s really going on inside of you, and you are willing to let the other individual (in this case God) in to your inner world. So our only responsibility in order to experience God’s love is to keep our hearts open.
If this is true, than I think it’s important to look at what keeps us from opening our hearts. There can be any number of reasons that we can give, but I think what it really boils down to is fear; fear of rejection/punishment/being hurt. Fear will cause us to want to keep our hearts closed in an effort to self-protect.
1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. Therefore, the only way to get rid of this fear is by love, and more specifically the love of God, because Christ is perfect love. So the more we open our hearts to Him to let Him love us, the less fear can keep our hearts closed.
So where do we start? That answer seems like a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type solution. Well, first of all, this is why we need faith, but secondly, I suggest starting with an area of your heart that is easier to open and allow His love to displace that fear. Practically speaking, that means that every moment you feel fear trying to sneak back in to that area, invite God’s love in to remind you of His truth.
As we begin to yield more areas of our heart to Christ’s love, by simply keeping an open heart (staying real/vulnerable with ourselves and God about what’s going on inside of us), the more we begin to want more of that love to fill our hearts. This is how gradually, day-by-day, we can become stronger, as we open our hearts to receive more of Christ’s love, and displace more of our fear. Then, as the end of verse 19 says, we “will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (NLT) Let’s let verse 20 be our response to all of this; “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Keep digging into Perfect Love this week!
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