Archive for July 2nd, 2007

The Fullness of God

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Please read Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV) out loud if possible.

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Kay Olry):

The Message puts it this way:

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

I remember when I first started reading scripture seriously (back when I was a “baby” Christian), and coming across this prayer from Paul to the Church at Ephesus. It was so different from much of the scripture that I was familiar with. This passage talked about the immensity of love that God has for His people, and for those that love Him. It shared the Good News that Gentiles were considered “good enough” to be considered heirs, along with Israel, of the promise in Jesus.

Many of us have known a person who live their lives in fear, or as Thoreau said, “…lives of quiet desperation”. Because they have never been able to believe in a Creator who loves them as they are, they keep trying to find the one person, thing, or substance that will fill the hole in their heart that can only truly be filled by the Spirit.

When I was in my early twenties I was out one night in a bar, doing my best to get drunk and wash away my troubles from the previous week (weren’t we all in a bar in the early eighties?). It was during a period in my life when I was just beginning to understand my sexuality, and the societal ramifications of being GLBT in a straight world. Somewhere in there, I had decided that if the world wanted to treat me as an outcast, I’d show them how outcast I could be.

I tried to strike up a conversation with an attractive woman who, quite honestly, didn’t want to engage in a conversation with my drunken self (I can’t imagine why). She did manage to tell me where she went to school… Taylor University. I remember being surprised that any GLBT person would choose to attend a Christian University. I asked her, “Isn’t being gay and Christian a contradiction in terms?” I’ve never forgotten her response, as simple as it was… “No, it isn’t.” That was all she said, and then she walked away. She didn’t feel called to explain or justify her response; sometimes, I wish she had.

It took me another six years before I was able to rebuild my own relationship with Christ. I wasted a lot of time, doing the whole bar scene. I was in the Air Force for much of it, literally traveling around the world, from Sicily to the Philippines. Every so often, my mind would try to figure out how she was able to integrate her sexuality with her Christianity. What I was really wondering was, how could I? How did she reconcile these two (what seemed) diametrically opposed tenets, especially as I had heard so many Christians say that God wasn’t interested in knowing me unless I changed, or chose celibacy. The Air Force would have thrown me out (or in jail) had they found out. In the Catholic Church, where I was raised, they were very clear on how they felt about people like me.

Eventually I was able to see God differently, with the help of a retreat I attended, put on by Catholics no less. God eventually succeeded in calling me back to my faith. It was prayers and scriptures like the passage above that helped me to understand, “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” I realized that regardless of what other people told me, that Christ was telling me something else — and that He loved me, too.

I often wondered what happened to that woman in the bar. I wonder what she’s doing today, what she’s become. What a gift she was given to have her head on that “straight” so early (pun intended).

Is there anyone in your life telling you that you aren’t “good enough” for relationship with God? Don’t believe them! Don’t lose years wondering how to integrate your whole life with Christ and the Church. Take Him at His word. He invites each of us into relationship, assuring us that Perfect Love is ours too.

Along with Paul, it is my fervent prayer “–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Thought for the day: In what ways do I need to feel the enveloping love of God in my life? Do I believe that the promises are for me too?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to start, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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