Grasping The Miracle
I love the age we live in - seeking knowledge and reason with science. Yet I fear that we have lost the capacity for wonder. Especially for those of us who claim the name of Christ in who we are - “Christians” - we should live in a life of wonder and awe. We are a miracle. We live a miracle. If Christian is our first name, then at the very least, Miracle should be our middle name. Yet most of us go about our days thinking that somehow miracles are outside our experience. So we live lives of bare existence and survival. If we believe in miracles at all, it’s in the sense that they happen to someone else and not me. Today I want to turn our attention to Ephesians 3:14-21 and discover that miracles still happen, that they happen all around us, indeed that miracles happen within us.
#1 - My GLORY is God’s GLORY.
Our passage today begins and ends with glory - as it should. Paul writes,
“for this reason I kneel before the Father...”
What is the reason? The end of the verse before: “which are your glory.” Did you know that as Christ-followers that we should have glory? YES! This is true because our glory is God’s glory! God is RICH in glory and He wants you and me to demonstrate His glory to the world around us.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, ... that out of His glorious riches...” Ephesians 3:14-16a NIV
The God we worship is a most generous God! A Giving God! He shares His glory with us. He shares His very life with us. Our existence comes from God. “Every family...” is the Greek word “patria” and it is derived from the Greek worth “pater”, which literally means “father”. We exist because of our family (mom and dad) who exist because of God! Not only our existence but our very name. What does that mean?
It used to be that names were given because of what we did or what we were supposed to do. If your last name was “Baker” it was because you would be a baker. If your last name was “Smith” it was because you would become a smithy - someone who fashions metals. But no matter what we were designed to do or become, we all derived our gifts, our abilities, our talents, our means for making a living - from God Himself.
This wasn’t just for our benefit or for our glory, but ultimately for His:
“... to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:21 NIV
God gives us our name, grants us his family and fatherhood, so that we will display His glory, and ultimately be able to glorify God with the very glory He has lent us in the first place! Now, before we move on, what does this say about us, if we see no miracles, if we are never filled with wonder or awe? How do we give glory when we see no glory?
#2 - My POWER is God’s POWER.
There is a purpose to God’s glory granted to us and we see it here - out of God’s glory comes power...
“I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16 NIV
Here we have to ask - is it God’s riches that are glorious or is God’s glory... rich? Other versions write the verse, “Out of the riches of God’s glory...” It’s a question without significance because the answer is both. God’s riches are glorious. God’s glory is rich! Either way, the end result is the same - God strengthens us with his power OUT OF His rich glory!
Lest we get all high and mighty in ourselves (the opposite of the humility we talked about last week), we must also understand that there is purpose here too. God bestows His glory and His power in and through us, SO THAT God might work through us. Do you see it in v. 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...” Ephesians 3:20 NIV
Have you ever been surprised that something worked out so much better than you ever expected? Have you ever marveled that you were working on something and then found out that someone else - unbeknownst to you - was also working on the same thing, and between the two of you something great happened that would never have happened on your own? Have you ever been inspired and not known exactly where the inspiration came from? Here is the answer!
God’s power is at work within me and you! All the time! And it is so powerful that it accomplishes even more than we can even imagine! Do you know what that is called? When something is accomplished that is more than you can even imagine? That’s called a miracle!
#3 - My LOVE is God’s LOVE.
So God’ glory has a purpose, but so does God’ power:
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, being rooted and established in love...” Ephesians 3:17 NIV
Paul explains that the Agency through which God’s glory and power are given us is through an Agent, a person, and that Person is non other than the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit of Christ. We see it in the preamble to v. 17 - “through His Spirit in your inner being.” So let’s see if we can sum up thus far what this teaching means to us? God is glory, and He shares His glory with us. God is power, and He shares His power with us. He does both (glory and power) through the Holy Spirit - literally the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ - Who abides deep within us - “in our inner being.”
So if we ever come to the place of “Meh” in our own spirits, the boredom of the “same old thing” in our experiences of life... if we are ever not able to grasp the miracle of this “blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves our sea”, we have only to look deep within us to discover the source of awe and wonder!
The wonderful thing about this being filled with God’s glory and God’s power through His Spirit is that it has almost nothing to do with glory and power itself. These are almost byproducts. God cannot help but be glorious and powerful. It is Who He is. And when He is deep within our inner being, we cannot help but be filled with both His power and His glory.
The whole point of God’s Spirit (and thus God’s power and glory) being within us is that our hearts might become the dwelling place for Christ Himself! Your heart, your inner being, your very existence is created to be the dwelling place of Christ! Think of it! And then ask this question:
What kind of home (dwelling place) have I prepared for the King of kings and the Lord of lords?
Mary Kay loves watching HGTV. All day long there are shows about decorating and preparing a home to look it’s very best! Her fav is “Home Town” - all about Ben and Erin Napier. Ben is the craftsmen who can take any piece of wood and fashion it into finished furniture. Erin is the designer who knows how to renovate into simple and southern. They take turn-of-the century homes on their last legs and renovate them into a thing of beauty - a place where you would love to live, to call “home.”
God’s Holy Spirit does that for each one of us. We may be on our last legs. We may no longer be filled with awe and wonder or see the miracles of God all around us. But God does not leave us in such a mess. He plants within each of His children - the very Spirit of Christ - the Master Craftsman and Designer - Who renovates us from the inside out. Why? So that we might become the very dwelling of Christ!
“... that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 19b NIV
This is what a renovated person (a Christian) looks like and feels like - Someone who MAY BE FILLED to the measure of ALL the fullness of God. Consider the expanse of this verse. Filled. To the MEASURE. ALL the fullness. Exactly how filled is that? What is ALL the FULLNESS of God? Does anyone know? Is there a limit? Could it be that when we think we are filled, that there is more filling? When we think we are full and have reached our measure, that God has more fullness and greater measure?
This is what it means to be rooted and established in love. The God who is all glory and all power is also all-loving. And when He fills us and then keeps filling us beyond our measure to His measure, that we are then rooted and established in love. And not just our puny love, but God’s all-powerful and all-glorious love.
#4 - The EXPERIENCE of Christ is more than KNOWLEDGE.
“(That you) may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Ephesians 3:18-19a
To really know Christ, to have Him live/dwell within our deepest inner being is something more than knowledge. That’s why verse 17 says that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. We KNOW Christ lives within us, but that knowledge comes to us through FAITH. Faith comes to us through EXPERIENCE. We experience Christ within us and thus we KNOW He lives within us. To know Christ is to experience Christ. This experience, this faith, this love... surpasses knowledge!
YES! There is something greater than knowledge! EXPERIENCE!
In today’s world we have elevated scientific knowledge and lowered experiential faith. Yet, every miracle of life comes to us by experience. Later when we try to PROVE the reality of the miracle, people will ask how you KNOW? And in this scientific, prove-it world, the answer of “I don’t know how... I just know... I experienced it” doesn’t hold value.
However, miracles are experienced! There is always always always an element of faith. And to grasp it we have to be willing to surpass knowledge itself as the end-all to understand how a miracle happened.
Miracles happen all the time. Miracles are all around you. The “blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves our sea” is a miracle. Your life - your very next breath - is a miracle. The love of Christ dwelling inside of you - without you earning it or deserving it - is perhaps the greatest miracle of all!
Conclusion:The greatest miracle on Earth is grasping Christ in me. To truly grasp Christ within me is to grasp His love! And how much love is there to Christ’s love? What is the measurement of that? How do I prove it’s dimensions? Just how wide is Christ’s love? Just how long is Christ’s love? Just how high is Christ’s love? Just how deep is Christ’s love?
I don’t know about you, but it almost feels like Paul is writing not just to the Ephesians, but to our prove-it world of knowledge trumping all experience. But of course that’s not right. Because Paul never wrote to the world - he wrote to the Christians in the world. And so this to all you of Christian faith living within this world of scientific knowledge...
How is your grasping? Are limited in your sense of the miracle of Christ within you? Or are you overwhelmed at just how wide and long and high and deep is Christ’s love within you!
Here’s how you will know that your experience is real. As you attempt to grasp the dimensions of Christ’s love within you, you will be empowered by God’s power. And with that power you will accomplish great things that you never could have on your own. And you’ll say that’s all God, not me. And in doing so you will be giving appropriate glory to God. As you give glory to God, you’ll have a sense of His power within you accomplishing great things. And you’ll know that is the result of God’s love, which somehow just got a little wider, a little longer, a little higher and a little deeper. Your grasp of Christ’s love became greater, the power of God became greater, and His glory became greater!