George Santayana, who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That’s why learning history matters so much. However, to learn from history we have to be honest with the truth and sometimes that means facing some terrible moments in history. For this post, I have in mind events like the Rwandan Genocide, the rise of Nazi Germany that led to World War II, the American Civil War, and The Thirty Years War.
These wars were fought in the name of tribalism, nationalism, racism, and denominationalism by many professing Christians who did not wake up one morning with their hearts suddenly set on war. Rather, somehow, the gospel of Jesus Christ was slowly eclipsed or co-opted by other agendas surrounding tribalism, nationalism, racism, denominationalism. This is why Ephesians, a letter written to Jewish and Gentile believers struggling with divisions, matters. For this post, I want to focus on the prayer found in 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. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This prayer is offered in response to the Gospel described throughout Ephesians, particularly in the first three chapters. As a summation of how the gospel is described, we (the church) have already received every blessing in life from God. Though we were once dead in our transgressions, God saved us by his grace through faith. God accomplished this salvation by sending Christ who made peace for us by reconciling us as one body through the death and resurrection of Christ. Now we are filled with the Spirit as the living portrait of God’s wisdom, a church demonstrating that God is able to make one family out of different people.
The prayer itself asks that you first we would be “strengthened” by the Holy Spirit in our inner being so that Christ would “dwell” within our hearts through faith. This language of Christ dwelling in our hearts is talking about Christ living in or taking up residence within us. So the role of the Spirit dwelling within us is that Christ will become the center of our personality, thoughts, and emotions along with everything else that identifies who we are.
Such strengthening by the Spirit so that Christ dwells among us is how we are “filled with all the fullness of God.” However, this is a blessing we can receive, reject, or just stifle by letting other claims and agendas take us captive. In the second part of this post, Comprehensive Faith, Pt. 2: Hag-Ridden Christians, I’ll discuss the failure of faith confronting Christianity in America today. For now, take time to reflect on why might be distracting us as believers that would eclipse the fullness of God among us?