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  • Kaleidoscopic

    Today we reach the end of chapter 3 of Ephesians; the end of Paul's passionate description of the gospel and the Church; and the end of our Week of Prayer devotionals. These posts are intended to unite our prayers this week and lay the foundations for our preaching series in Ephesians 4 this term. There's much more to come.

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    rocor by Sonia Falcone used under CC BY-SA 2.0

    To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:8-12)

    If you’ve ever been tempted to give up on the world, writing it off as random succession of events spiralling out of control, then listen carefully to Paul’s words in this part of his letter. The world can never spiral or wrestle itself out of control. There is a plan. There is purpose; eternal purpose. This is a God who created all things, who is in control, and who is now recreating humanity in Christ.

    How is God doing this recreating? It’s through the Church.

    How big is your view of the Church? Here we’re told that it’s through the Church that the manifold wisdom of God will be made known. ‘Manifold’ literally means ‘many-coloured’; one of the main messages of this first half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was that people-groups who used to hate each other can now be reconciled in Christ, united together as they are both united to Christ. God has revealed to Paul that He wants the Church to be break cultural barriers, to be multicultural and multicoloured in order to reflect His own kaleidoscopic, multicoloured wisdom. God wants to shout about His radical forgiveness, love and humility through the Church. When we ask God to align our hearts with His, we are asking Him to put the Church right at the centre of our plans. He has no plan B. He is creating a new multi-everything humanity through the Church.

    There have been some dark times for the Church in history. Awful things done, terrible things ignored. Knowing the potential for people to mess things up, Paul goes on to write down his prayer for the church in Ephesus, he knows that without the Spirit—when we try to do things on our own—we won’t be able to love each other across cultural boundaries or even across our personal boundaries. Let’s spend some time looking at this prayer, we need it.

    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. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

    First, Paul directs his prayer to each individual believer, that they will be strengthened by the Spirit in their inner being. Then he reveals the communal effect of this, the love of Christ will unite them together and together they will have strength to comprehend the full dimensions of Christ’s love. Perhaps we can put it like this; on our own we can have knowledge of Jesus’ love, together we can know it. Experiencing the glorious riches of Christ through others. His patience through one, His joy through another. His truth, His mercy, His compassion coming at us from all sides!

    If this isn’t already the reality for you in church, it can be. We each need to ask the Father to strengthen us by His Spirit, only with His power at work within us can we love one another and be a church family that will know and show his glory.

    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 glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

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