Paul records something of a prayer in Ephesians 3. He longs for the followers of Christ to understand the greatness of God and to take this reality to heart.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth,
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:14-20)
The religion of the Christian is a heart religion. It works from the inside out. The internal work of God fires the life of the believer who gives himself to the immeasurable and the unfathomable. His heart trusts and is willing to be found in the Savior, losing himself in the righteousness of all that God is.
The Beauty of Holiness
This is the beauty of holiness; the way we are to worship the Lord according to Psalm 29:2: “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Our efforts, our calculations, our measured responses count for nothing when done in the strength of our flesh. Instead, God bids us to be “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”
Imagine Adam and Eve, as they once were, during the moments and days when they roamed and frolicked in Eden, a garden boundless in so many ways. Their space was ever green and warm. The presence of God was felt and He was heard by them. They knew God and He knew them. Their mission was simple: be fruitful and multiply. Theirs was an existence of life and love and liberty, with no calculations and no sweat.
The deception and the Fall changed all of it. Ever since, Man has been about his own business and not the Father’s business. He devotes himself to addition and subtraction, measurement and division.We can look at things too long and too hard with a vision that's too natural, too earthly. Click To Tweet
We see this in Cain, as we read in Genesis 4. He tilled the ground; he kept his face in the dust. His offering to the Lord derived from what he did in his strength. It was likely something ordered and arranged to make an impression; a neat package culled from his fields. It may have been well done, humanly speaking, but God saw it as unacceptable and it brought a curse.
Abel, in contrast, offered a lamb from the flock. It was no doubt bloody and messy, and it was right. It was something that pointed to Christ and the Cross, another bloody, messy place of offering. This went beyond the sweat of human self-effort. The acceptable offering required a death; something innocent had to die. Someone had to shed His blood to answer the sin that brought death into the picture of Creation.
Framing His Glory
God’s ways are above and beyond ours. His breadth, and length, and depth, and height surpass knowledge. Still, He is the God of right measures, just balances, and fair weights.
Consider the amount of definition and detail the Lord communicated to Moses regarding the Tabernacle erected in the wilderness in the book of Exodus. God imparted His mind and His design and told Moses to be careful to follow the pattern.
What was behind all the details for this project? It was God teaching the children of Israel — and all of us — the power of trusting in His Word.
Once assembled, the Tabernacle served to frame the glory of the Lord. His presence was magnified to such a degree that all flesh was shut out. Even Moses, the one who received the design straight from God, could not enter in at this moment. Such was the fullness of God then and there.
This is who we are as people of God, as believers in Christ. We stand as frames for the revelation of the glory of the Lord. Faith, our exercise of trust in the redemptive purpose of the Person of Christ, opens the way for our hearts to have His fullness; the same fullness that filled the Tabernacle.
Christ dwells in us and we are rooted and grounded in love. As a result, our comprehension of life is different. We enjoy and embrace the measureless and rejoice in love that stands above all knowledge.
We rest and we pray. We witness God doing things that are “exceeding abundant” things, above what we could ask or think.
Seeing the Right Way
Men get to thinking and thinking too much, so much that they forget about asking. Their hearts get weighed down with the ways of the world.
Jeremiah 17 describes the problem well. A curse plagues the heart given to trust in man’s ways and in the strength of the flesh. A deception comes in and there is departure from the Lord.
This kind of heart can see no good and has no rest. It always presents a tweak, an adjustment, a critique, a manipulation, a correction. Oh, how much sweat goes into the pursuit of dialing in the right settings.
Perhaps, we should just close our eyes sometimes. We can look at things too long and too hard with a vision that’s too natural, too earthly.
Maybe it is better that we cannot see at all. The blind man in Mark 10 heard that Jesus was near and cried out — “Have mercy on me.” All this man did was ask. Jesus stood still and opened his eyes (see Mark 10:46-52). It was an exceeding, abundant, above and beyond moment.
The blessed man trusts in the Lord and has his hope in Him (Jeremiah 17:7).
To hear more about the heart after God, watch the message Two Hearts, Love and the Life of Faith, preached by Thomas Schaller, pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.