In the verses before this, Paul celebrates that he can bring God’s grace to the Gentiles. Paul, who persecuted Christians and saw non-Jews as on the outs with God, now has the work of sharing good news with the very people he once condemned. He is humbly grateful for this work; and this passage opens with bowing down before God, the source of our very names.
Sharing good news in a social context that prioritizes wealth and prestige is hard work. Thus Paul prays for the people of Ephesus to be strengthened by the Spirit and rooted in love. Knowledge, which gives a person privilege, is superseded by Christ’s love and the fullness of God.
It takes strength to remain confident that God loves us just as we are. Life today is filled with a flurry of pressures to do more, to be more, to want more and more. You don’t need to be the wealthiest person on your street to get prestige today. You can get that with the nicest house or car, or going on the most luxurious vacation, or by being connected to the most important people. At work we compete with one another over how tired or overworked or overwhelmed we are.
Yet what we do or what we have is not our ultimate source of power. That comes from God who overwhelms us with love, which we then can share with others. Paul insists we will accomplish more by the fullness of love than by anything else.
What does it take to do this? Trust that God loves us as we are. Ask for forgiveness for what we have done to hurt others. Scream and holler about the horrors of the world, and know that God did not want those things to happen. Take time away in the wilderness and reconnect to God.
Fill me, God, with your fullness. Help me to accomplish in love the work you have set before me. Amen.
The Bible is filled with the stories of imperfect people. David is a classic case. In Second Samuel he uses his power to have sex with another man's wife, tries to cover it up, and then plots the murder of her husband. How can this be the same man who penned this week’s psalm, which decries the foolishness of people who act in a godless way? Like us, David was a fallen person who needed God’s extravagant mercy. In Ephesians we read of this same extravagance given through Christ, whose power can do what we cannot—namely redeem all of us who are also foolish and fallen. The Gospel author demonstrates the power of Jesus through what he describes as “signs,” which Jesus performed not primarily to amaze the onlookers but rather to point them to his identity as the Son of God.
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15. Where in today’s world do you see the selfishness of powerful people bringing tragedy for people with less power?
Read Psalm 14. Do you number yourself among the wise who “seek after God”? Why or why not?
Read Ephesians 3:14-21. How does “being rooted and grounded in love” manifest itself in your life?
Read John 6:1-21. Where do you see yourself in this story?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.