One evening while I was a seminary student, as I was driving home I saw this guy holding a gas can, and trying to wave down cars. I pulled over and rolled down my window. He asked for gas money, but I didn’t want to just give him money, so I told him I’d fill up his gas can for him. There was a gas station close by. But he said, “How do I know you won’t steal my can?” And I said, “I’m a Christian.” As soon as I said the word “Christian,” he went ballistic. I’ll sanitize the language a bit. He said, “I’m god. This is MY world. I’m god. This is MY world. I made this world. I made this street.” And he got angrier and angrier and louder and louder. He started screaming right next to my car window. So I just started rolling slowly away. As I turned into our apartment complex, I thought I heard something. Sure enough, I looked behind me, and this guy was right on my tail, in his car, evidently he wasn’t out of gas, and I don’t even know how he was driving. His whole upper torso was leaning out of the window and he was shaking his fist and screaming at me. And I’d just led him right to my home.
He was a perfect illustration of 1 John 5:19 if I’d ever seen one: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” The age we live in can be likened to an eclipse. God’s glory is obscured in this age. And our lives are more spiritual than we realize. In Ephesians 3:1-8a Paul shared the Epic News that the Jewish Messiah didn’t just come to save the Jews. He came to save the whole world. As Gentiles, you and I take that news for granted today, it was so radical that Paul spent time in jail for proclaiming it. In v. 10 we learn that the gospel proves to demonic powers that their authority has been decisively broken and that all things are to be subject to Christ. Satan cannot hinder the advance of the gospel. These thoughts led Paul to utter the boldest prayer ever prayed (3:14-19).
Normal people, like you and me, “filled with all the fullness of God” (v. 19)! Doesn’t it seem like there should be a capacity problem here? One of my professors referred to people as “empty vessels” filled either with God’s presence or Satan’s lies. Apart from God, I cannot be who he designed me to be. I’m like an inflatable, and I take shape when God fills me. My very identity is wrapped up in his Presence. The refrain of an ancient hymn illustrate the powerful love of Christ:
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.
Paul closed this prayer with an explosion of praise to God for how graciously he’s loved us (v. 20-21). In response to the access God has granted us, we can draw near. In response to the power He offers us, we can become whole new people. In response to the love He’s expressed to us, we can love Him with all our hearts. Surrender your heart to Him, so that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (v. 17).
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
In response to the love He’s expressed to us, we can love Him with all our hearts. Surrender your heart to Him, so that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (v. 17).
- If you worry about your future, tell God, “Lord, take my future plans…”
- If you are ruled by tragedies, bitterness, or loss, say, “Lord, take my past and my history…”
- If you have fears in the arena of relationships, tell God, “Lord, take all my relationships…”
- If you’re tempted to love anything more than Him or instead of Him—“Lord, take my idols…”