In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. In this passage, we are encouraged to dip freely into God’s promise of transformation so that we can transform our world.
EPHESIANS 3:16 – 19 – ROOTED AND GROWING
“Out of God’s infinite love may we be given power through the Spirit for our hidden selves to grow strong. Rooted and growing in God’s love, we will have the strength to live that love so deeply that our world will be transformed by the utter fullness of God within us” (a paraphrase from Ministry of the Arts).
The soul is the part of a person that is not physical. It is the center of our will, our intentions, our emotions, our thought process, and our motives. These features can be hidden from others, even from ourselves, but not, as we sometimes hoodwink ourselves, from God. The soul is our “hidden self” in this powerful passage about transformation. Our hidden self is the source of all of our problems. When it is weak, we fall easily into the attitudes and actions that our moral compass knows we want to avoid: anger, jealousy, fear, lies, theft, bitterness, control, etc.
These actions are not only harmful to others but also are barriers to the flow of God in and through us. As Richard Rohr points out, “sin is whatever stops the flow of [God’s] love.” He goes on to say this flow is like a dance; the love moving in and out, receiving and handing on. Think of the tides so dependably flowing in and then back out – and affecting the entire world.
This why the proclamation of Ephesians 3 is so important. When we are “rooted and growing in God’s love,” the Spirit will unveil our” hidden self” and transform us. Then, we can, in turn, transform the world – not by our own power or skill or cleverness, but by the “fullness of God within us.” God has made this “with-God” life possible. We need only to stand in the river of his love and “go with the flow.”
♥ These verses speak of the “fullness of God” The Amplified Bible suggests this explanation of that term: that you “may have the richest experience of the divine Presence, in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself!” How do you experience the “fullness of God?” In music, in service, in silence, in friendship, in art, in nature? Spend sometime being open to being “flooded with God himself.”
♥ The Spiritual Formation Bible comments on the fact that the arc of the Bible’s narrative reflects God’s intent for human life as being in every way a dwelling place of God. “This dynamic, pulsating, with-God life is on nearly every page of the Bible. To the point of redundancy we hear that God is with his people.” Look up some of the following passages. How do they help you understand living a “with-God life?” Gen. 17: 1-2; II Chronicles 20: 15-22, 29-30; Ezekiel 37: 27-28; Luke 27: 21; John 15: 1-5; Ephesians 3: 20, I Thessalonians 1: 5).
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“We are not simply filled “with” God’s fullness as something to make us feel satisfied and content, but we are filled for the goal of God’s fullness in and for the world. In this way, we come to know the love which surpasses knowing (Ephesians 3: 19a). To know what is beyond knowing — what a wonderful phrase! This . . . . is that love which is the very life of the Triune God. Being filled with such love is what landed Paul in prison . . . .This is not the fullness promised by a “prosperity gospel,” but the fullness of a life given in love for the world. Indeed, that path of suffering love may be “beyond what we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) precisely because we are unwilling to do so” (Brian Peterson, Working Preacher website, July 26, 2015).