“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..”Ephesians 3:20
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, several themes emerge. One that I am freshly digesting, and challenged by, is the nature of this ‘inheritance’ he refers to that believers have access to, or rather, already possess. As followers of Jesus Christ, the church has taken comfort through the ages that this life is not all there is. But, is eternal life the primary gift, or even what the early Christian writers focused on as the glorious inheritance?
As I trace the themes through the letter, it seems to me that Paul’s heart cry is not that folks would go to heaven, but rather that they would experience something in the present, that something of heaven would invade their present reality individually, and as a community of faith.
The bulk of Paul’s devotional encouragement, his charge to the saints in Ephesus, lies in chapter 1:18 – 2:22. The outline, in a condensed version goes something like this:
- I pray that the Father of Jesus Christ would give you wisdom and revelation as you come to know him… (1:17)
- So that you would know the glorious inheritance among you all… which is His power working now among you.. (1:18-1-19)
- This power is the power of Christ’s own resurrection, which rules over your every enemy, in this life and all eternity… (1:20-22).
- Through this resurrection power, we have been united together under His rule, and care, being built into a spiritual dwelling for God.
In short, Paul is saying, “in our journeying of knowing God, our inheritance is not a future hope only, but a present one as well. We have been raised to life by a power that destroys death. With this backdrop he then inscribes, “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.. ” Eph 3:20.
What are you struggling with today? What powers, what instruments of the world seem to have dominion over your mind, your will, your heart? What habits sneak around in the corners of your mind, waiting to condemn and keep us in bondage? Our hope, according to scripture, is not to escape this life, and enter another free of temptation and turmoil. Our hope is rather to fix our heart’s gaze on our own individual and communal access to Christ’s resurrection power. This place, where “God put this power to work” (1:19), is not an annual event called Easter, it’s the believer’s foundation, it’s our experiential reality, a place of emancipation from sin’s power, from all that binds us, and keeps us from love’s liberty.
When I struggle to live freely in God’s perfect love, perhaps what I’m really lacking is a better imagination.
I have no problems imagining the frivolous , even the fleshly and selfish desires of the heart. Why can’t I imagine the capacity of the resurrection to instigate change, to renew and release my own heart? Paul goes to lengths in his writings to remind the reader that this power at work is not a humanly powered activity, but a free act of mercy, of God’s grace.
My prayer today is to be free in my imagination, to take on Paul’s challenge to see Christ’s resurrection power working in my “above and beyond all I can ask or imagine.” I believe this power adopts me into the fellowship of Christ’s church, but I need a wider, more lofty imagination. I need an imagination that experiences my inheritance, the power of release, liberty, and measureless love (Eph 3:16-19). We have been rescued from the domain of darkness, today, in my present reality.
Help us dear Savior to live into our glorious inheritance today with fresh imagination, and renewed minds.