Knowing Love Beyond Knowledge
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
This prayer is one of the towering peaks of Scriptures. Doxology (prayer and worship) takes a us to a place far above the heights of intellect. After behold the goodness and blessing of God’s life poured upon his people, all generations can only respond by shouting, “Glory!”
The family God creates fills heaven and earth.
A. Paul “kneels in prayer.” Kneeling in prayer is not a Jewish tradition. Standing in prayer is a Jewish tradition. Other cultures surrounding Israel kneeled in worship. So why does Paul begin by mentioning that he is kneeling to the Father? He is writing to Gentiles about their inclusion in the family of God. Thus kneeling would be familiar to them in worship. He, a Jew, has so identified with the Gentiles to whom he has been sent, that he has adopted their worship habits.
B. The Father has named his whole family in heaven and earth. God has created this family that is not limited to time and space as we know, but extends in all directions. Naming is suggests covenant and authority. Jesus names the twelve apostles, giving them authority of office; so his names all members of his family. Each one carries authority to reveal his glory in a particular way, creating a stunning harmony when all voices rejoice as one.
The dwelling created and strengthened by the Spirit.
The heart of man must be transformed, renewed, recreated by the Holy Spirit to becoming a holy dwelling for the Jesus. By heart do we mean an organ inside the body? Yes and no. Actually the heart normally refers to the whole person but this is not some kind of mystical, bodiless dwelling. God entered human history in the physical body of Jesus Christ. And through Christ, he continues to incarnate his presence in this world today. So our whole person include the body, the emotions, the will, and all the words we may use to understand what refers to our whole person. We are growing toward Jesus, into Jesus, through Jesus. Our relationship with him (mediated by the power of the Spirit) is literally changing us from the inside out. Think about how two people that are married may begin to look alike or act alike. They are changed into one another through relationship. This is what is happening with Jesus only in a much deeper way.
The vine that God sustains through love.
Paul moves from a building metaphor (dwelling) to an organic metaphor (rooted and grounded). Much like John 15, we are the branches sustained by God’s love alone. We have no fruit, no life, no joy or peace, outside his love. How does a branch draw nourishment from the vine? It remains. It abides. This is not about activity, but about dependency. We hunger, we thirst, we rest, and we trust in his unceasing flow of love to sustain us.
The dimensions of love that we can never fully exhaust.
Ephesians begins with a vision of how Christ is the center point all the cosmos. Now Paul flips that images and looks to the farthest reaches of the cosmos: width and length and depth and height (much like the four corners of the earth). Go as far as you can, in any direction, and you cannot escape the love of God in Christ. This reminds us of Romans:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“ For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”[c]
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The knowledge of love that surpasses knowledge.
How can knowledge of love surpass knowledge? There are at least two ways of knowing: intellectually and relationally. We can amass information, memorize facts, and quote maxims, yet still not know something. Relational love is not about collecting data but rather about encountering Presence. We turn and face one another. We behold. We are change and are changed. Once again think of a man and a woman. When they say, “I love you.” What does that mean? Does it mean something different for the twentysomethings passionately in love and something different for the fortysomethings raising a family and building a life together and still something different for the seventysomethings as their health declines and they care for one another? Love is particularized in every relationship. This is a beginning to consider what it means to know love that surpasses knowledge.
Filled to the fullness of God.
This speaks of perfection, completion. God’s love completes us. Only in his love can we become what we were created to become. And what He is doing and will do is even greater than anything we could ever grasp or imagine. All we can do is rejoice!