“…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…” (Ephesians 3:17–19).
Paul, longing for the church to become fully united to the love of Christ, has prayed for the Spirit to build up our inner person and for Christ to settle in our hearts through faith. Here, he continues his request by asking that the love of Christ would establish us. It is a love, he confesses, which “surpasses knowledge,” but should still root and ground us, running into our the core of our motivations and desires.
Paul prayed for us to allow the love of Christ to become our root system.
”that you, being rooted…in love…”
He used a picture from nature to describe our relationship to Christ’s love. Just as the roots of a tree are to sink down deep into the earth in search of nutrients and stability, so the love of Christ nourishes and stabilizes the believer. Every person is in search of love, and this quest for love can cause the worst of behavior at times. But the believer who is rooted in the love of Christ has an endless supply of nourishment; love is perpetually theirs. When rooted in the love of Christ one can walk through a drought of earthly love, but still be fruitful and alive because of a secret love deep below the surface, the love of Christ.
Every person endures the tears and trials of life. Believers do not escape the trials. In fact, new pains are added to them in the form of spiritual attacks, persecutions, and the burden of gospel work. We need, in the face of such trials, stability. We need God to make us firm in every windstorm of life. The love of Christ is a fortress for the soul, for trials lead to a temptation to view God as inept or uncaring. The cross of Christ shows us both views are wrong. God is powerful, vanquishing death, trials, and sin through the blood of His own Son. God is also caring; He demonstrated that love in sending His Son to die for us. The believer, rooted in Christ's love, is made strong to endure every trial and drought and storm.
Paul also prayed for us to allow the love of Christ to become our foundation.
”that you, being…grounded in love…”
He used a picture of a building to describe this relationship to Christ’s love. Like a structure which cannot stand firm and upright without a solid foundation, so the love of Christ provides a solid base for the believer. Much of the Christian life comes down to this relationship with Christ’s love, for many try to build a life of good works and meaning, attempting to do something radical for God, in an attempt to receive His love. It is far better to be utterly convinced of His love and then respond to it through a radical life of good works. The believer, grounded in this love, is made stable for every season of life.
Paul also prayed for us to have the strength to comprehend the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
”…may have strength to comprehend…and to know the love of Christ…”
To him, the love of Christ was a vast expanse in all directions. It is a fortress to be scaled, a wilderness to be charted. He saw it as wide and long and high and deep. Perhaps these are mere expressions, a playful twist of fine literature, but a study of Ephesians shows us Christ’s love in all these directions.
The love of Christ has breadth, for Paul has taught us it is wide enough for the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike. No one is beyond the scope of His love. The love of Christ has length, for Paul has shown us it is as long as eternity, having been established from the foundation of the world. The love of Christ has height, for Paul has taught us it has raised believers to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. The love of Christ has depth, for Paul has shown us that, though we were dead in sin and followers of the flesh, the world, and the devil, we find escape in Jesus. There is no sin too deep for Him to rescue a person from.
So Paul prays for us, not to love Christ more, but to understand Christ’s love more. He envisions a people who are completely overtaken by the relentless love of Jesus Christ, for only then will we change the world.
During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.