Ephesians 3:17 "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."
Our focus today is verses 20 and 21.
Religion is weak and failing for 2 simple reasons. The first is that we make it about ourselves which is a dead end to begin with. Behaviour modification is useless and ultimately fruitless. As my favourite author puts it: "All our promises are like ropes of sand."
Secondly religion when it gets "serious about change" talks about lofty ideals like perfection and holiness. Lofty indeed.
Here's the problem. The religion of Jesus's day was all about perfection. They dressed a certain way, they prayed a certain way, they even had rituals about washing your hands a certain way. Yet despite all their detailed attempts at perfection divorce was sky high, the illicit sex trade was booming, anger was rooted deep in human hearts, hatred, prejudice, and racism flourished. People with the Jewish faith couldn't get along never mind loving anyone else. Perfection and holiness indeed...
Why? Because true religion isn't about external issues like how you dress or wash your hands. True religion is not about praying a certain way or having just the right beliefs or views. True religion is a heart issue. It is discovering the heart of God for you and for those around you. It's a miracle He does from the inside out.
Why? Because we can't even conceive of lofty ideals like perfection and holiness. When we try we quickly write ourselves off or others off as hopeless. We can see how it could be possible not even realizing we can't even see what "it" is. Think about it. Jesus was perfection and holiness and when He came we called Him demon possessed and we killed Him.
That's the bad news. I don't like bad news.
Here is the good news. When we shift our focus from our problems and lack to His love for us everything begins to change. How much does it change?
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."
How much positive change will He bring to our broken lives if we get rooted in His love? Exceedingly, abundantly, ABOVE. Above what? Anything we can even imagine to ask for. This is why seeking perfection as the pathway to God is completely and utterly hopeless. We can't even picture or imagine His perfect plans, much less achieve them. Not to worry though. Get rooted in His love. Study His life as described in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let His love soak in. Ask God to help you see it and believe it. When His love begins to have its effect on you the very life of Jesus will begin to live out in you. It may happen so slowly that you think nothing is happening but others will see it.
The kind of love that makes a hardened Roman centurion confess as Jesus was both dying and forgiving His murderous creation: "Surely this is the Son of God."