The collision of the fullness of a glorious God with our weak feeble flesh is mysterious.
There are days when I can’t help but to wonder how God continues to love and be so patient with me. I tend to find myself demonstrating a grumbling, complaining attitude so often, yet God always draws me to Himself, convicts me of my sinful actions, and restores me with His grace. Time and time again. Why? Why would the Lord demonstrate this loving outreach to me day after day?
Recently I’ve been reading through Ephesians. I’ve been finding myself specifically reading over chapter 3:14-21 over and over. Paul is addressing the Christians in Ephesus, and demonstrating a loving, thankful, encouraging message to them. Right before these verses, Paul is reminding these believers of the trails and sufferings that he has gone through as a minister of the Gospel for their sake and the witness of Christ. He urges them to “not loose heart”, and then he writes of a prayer and plea for spiritual strength regarding the love of God.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength 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, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
The main take-away and continuous thought I have gathered from this passage is:
We have to pray for, and rely on the Holy Spirit, in order to comprehend the character and love of God. Our flesh is unable. We need the help of God to even understand His ways.
Isn’t that a fascinating truth? While it is fascinating, it can also be frustrating and confusing. If you are like me, you may be thinking two thoughts regarding the overwhelming love and character of God.
1. I don’t understand how God is working in this circumstance.
As Christians, we know that God is working for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, as Romans 8 says. We say that constantly and we also know that our faith cannot be circumstantial, because we are living in a fallen, sinful world, and God’s love is not situational or temporary, but rather eternal and consistent. But aren’t there times when we wonder how the love of God is being manifested in certain situations of our lives? I recently met an Atheist, and he rebuked and mocked the God that I serve. My whole life is centered upon this Gospel of Jesus, and someone is telling me that I am wasting my time and energy. He was certain that there is no God and everything has always been here-nothing was created. One of his main arguments was the sufferings and pain that we see in this world. How could a loving God allow so much destruction in this world? This is an argument that many Atheists and people in general ask. Honestly, I have even asked myself this question. This world is extremely broken. People are protesting across the nation regarding the Fergusson situation, people are dying everyday across the world, murders are happening, cancer is arising, poverty is evident, relationships are broken, and the list goes on and on. My faith has honestly been tested recently, and I’ve had to ask myself the hard questions, and pray hard prayers. I don’t just want to follow Jesus because it’s the life I was raised up in, or it’s the “right” thing to do. I want this faith to be real, no matter where the Lord leads me. I want it to be owned, and powerful. Does the Gospel have the power to overcome any circumstance, and how does the character of God play into that? Well…that’s honestly a whole separate blog or sermon, but I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in John 16:33, as he challenges His disciples. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus does tell us that we will have trouble. He also speaks of the destruction that will happen. Matthew 24 even speaks of the evil, harm and confusion that will occur towards the end times. This world will constantly be a mess, without the Gospel of Jesus. The Gospel must be proclaimed to the ends of the Earth. This is the mission of Jesus. The destruction and chaos of the world should not drive us away from faith and hope in Jesus, but should bring us to a hopeful anticipation of the coming of Jesus, and a reminder that there is SO much work to be done. There is no time to waste, and we cannot relax and just enjoy the comforts of the world. Salvation is at stake, and we have been given this task. Can you imagine what this world would be like if EVERY Christian was actively sharing their faith daily, and demonstrating a biblical lifestyle. Now I’m guilty as well. I need to be reminded. But we need each other, and we must together, as the body, as one unit, be engaged in the world around us. When circumstances make no sense, we can cling to the fact that the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ, that surpasses all human knowledge, is working for our good and for His glory. We must trust Him and be obedient. Praise God that we are not in control. Leave that up to the Lord!
2. I don’t understand why God is so good to me.
Now, that last section is a hard reality, but the Lord is also so good to us. It is in our brokenness and shortcomings that His grace and mercy is so sweet and encouraging. Praise God for the cross. Praise Him for the redeeming work He has done in our lives if you are a Christian. Praising God brings it all into perspective. We have a higher hope, and a higher destination. This world is not our home, and we are literally walking in the shadows of eternity. This is something that I know I must cling to, and continually demonstrate. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 37:8). Thank you Lord. Thank you for setting me apart, from the foundations of the Earth, and redeeming me to your grace. Thank you for giving me an eternal perspective and continual push towards a higher calling. Thank you that my circumstances are not what I place my faith in, but you are much higher. Thank you for the rest and peace that you give my heart. Thank you that you continually draw me to yourself, and never allow me to run from you. You have sealed me with your Spirit, and I am yours. My life is yours, and I am not in control. Praise God!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
-We must pray big prayers, and expect big things.
-We must let the brokenness of this world drive us to the mission and urgency of the Gospel.
-We must not live by our circumstances, but by the eternal promises and love of God that is beyond us.
-We must praise God, continually and consistently, in the good and the bad.
-We must take our eyes off of ourselves, and put them on the needs of others, pointing to the power of the Cross.
-We must not try to understand God without God. There are things we will be unable to understand, but He will give us what we need.