Grounded In Love

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV):  

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power 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, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.   

Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Grounded in Love (Charcoal, Black India Ink, Graphite, and White Pastel Stick on Watercolor Paper)

“ . . .  you are being rooted and grounded in love.”   Ephesians 3:17 NRSV

Today’s text is written to us.  The “you” in this instance is plural.  Paul1 is speaking to us as the body of Christ.  This is a communal prayer.  While this prayer reads nicely for an individual, it is beautiful to read this knowing it is addressed to the church, the community of faith as a whole.  

Paul, who is once again imprisoned, is on bended knees praying for the people.  Paul reminds us that we are from God.  God’s very essence is in us.  We are made in God’s image.  Saying that “from whom every family” takes its name, is significant.  Biblically speaking, names are important.  Names point to the essence.  Remember back in Exodus 3 when Moses says to God: “Who should I say sends me?”  And God responds, “Tell them I am who I am, I will be who I will be sends you.”2  There is power in a name.  We are made in the image of God and bear God’s name, God’s imprint on us.

Paul prays first that we may be strengthened in our inner being through the power of the Spirit.  Have you ever felt that you are running on empty?  As a church?  As an individual?  Have you ever had that toddler mentality of “I can do it myself?”  I have found that when we rely on our own power, our own strength to sustain us we face burn out, exhaustion, and eventually apathy.  Paul reminds us that it is not about us.  In a society where we are constantly bombarded with images and things telling us it is about us, this counter cultural way of Christ reminds us once again that it is truly not about us.  It is about God’s spirit reigning within us, filling us, sustaining us, empowering us and giving us strength.  Let us not be prone to self-reliance.  Rather, let us learn to rest in God’s care, to continually come to the well of living water.  Let us seek nourishment for our soul from the only one who can truly fill us.

Paul continues praying that through the gift of faith, Christ may dwell in our hearts.  We are meant to be vessels for God.  And as Christ dwells in our heart we are being rooted and grounded in love.  Because Chris first loved us, and because our lives are filled with His abiding presence and love, being grounded in that love empowers us to love God, love self, love one another, and love God’s creation.  Because we are the dwelling place of God’s presence, we begin to see the world through the eyes of God.  And as we grow in being rooted and grounded in Godly love, we are able to weather the storms of life.  I am reminded of when Jesus teaches about building a house on the sand versus the rock:   “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”   Matthew 7:24-27 NRSV  When we build our lives grounded in Christ who is our Rock, we are sustained by His strength and not our own.  Therefore, when the storms of life come we will be like the tree whose roots keep it grounded.  So let us build our lives on Christ and be grounded in his love.

Paul continues his prayer that we might understand the vastness of God’s love so we may be filled with the fullness of God’s presence.  Because of God’s love and presence living and dwelling in us, may we grow in our relationship with God.  May we grow to be more like God.  And then God can use us as vessels in the World.  Because we are filled with God’s presence and love we become God’s hands and feet at work in the world.  We are to be rooted and grounded in God’s love and filled by God’s presence.  God has chosen to make God’s dwelling among us.  We as individuals, and we as the church grounded in love, filled by the Holy Spirit, are then sent out into the world to share that love and presence with all that we meet.  

   

Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,

whose trust is the LORD. 

  They shall be like a tree planted by water,

sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NRSV)


Let us be rooted and grounded in Christ, sustained by His Living Waters, bearing fruit of God’s love and presence in the world.

Paul closes this prayer with a doxology of sorts.  So let us close today with this praise and glory to God:


Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Go in peace, grounded in love, filled by God’s sustaining and empowering presence.  In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we pray.  Amen.




1 Whether Ephesians was actually written by Paul or a follower of Paul is debatable.  Most scholars believe that it was written by a follower of Paul.  That said, for ease of writing, I will attribute it to Paul as the letter has been traditionally been attributed to him (probably as a way of honoring Paul).  

2 These are not exact quotes, but rather my paraphrase of the conversation between God and Moses.

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