Last week I blogged about an uber-prayer compliments of the Apostle Paul that God will always answer with a yes. Today I’m going to show you another one just like it. This one is nestled like a gold vein waiting to be stumbled upon in the middle of Ephesians, in 3:16-21.
“I pray that out of (the Father’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Actually, let’s park there, cause that’s already a shovelful of gold to sift through.
God somehow pours out the cosmic richness of His infinite glory to bring us strength. Which means (WOW!) that the source of our strength is glorious and inexaustible like he is. Thank-you, Father! And the strength comes to our inner being. The literal translation is “human being,” not dependent on our gender. Or more broadly, this refers to our humanity.
God brings his glory to bear on our humanity in such a way that it strengthens us. But what is the strength for? To serve him? To obey? Well sure, that, but first something even more incredible:
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
I want to pick up on three words here: Dwell, may, and faith.
First, the word DWELL. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, the word “dwell” here means “To reside, settle down to live. Frequently the word suggests more than the presence or existence of the subject, but also the establishment of a connection between himself and the site. One personally attaches himself to a locale designating it as his place of residence and accommodates the environment and territory to himself…to exert strong influence somewhere, be dominant, make the center or principal site of one’s activity.”
Now, we know that Christ lives in every true believer. So Paul isn’t asking God for something they already have. He’s asking that God would work in them (and now, us) in such a way that Jesus would live through them—that he’d successfully “make their hearts the principal site of his activity.” Jesus is in us, sure… but would you say Jesus is living his life through you every day? This prayer is God’s invitation to ask him for that because he wants you to have it.
Now for the word MAY. This connects the word DWELL with God’s strengthening. In short, Paul is saying that it takes a glorious strengthening of our humanity to be able to contain or handle our divine Resident. The strength and power is needed in order for us to function as willing vessels. This isn’t just about us staying out of Christ’s way, as some may imagine, so that “it’s all Christ, and I retreat into the background.” It’s more about us engaging fully with him and his work without hindering him in the process.
Last word: FAITH. Christ lives IN us whether we have faith to apprehend it or not, but he only lives THROUGH us as we partner with him by faith, depending on that glorious inner strengthening required to make it happen. This isn’t just semantics. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) IS the gospel, and is the essence of the Christian life.
What I sometimes do is this: I imagine God’s glory (something like a flaming, dancing Northern Lights) filling my soul, expanding my capabilities. Then I imagine Christ, already within me, rising up to speak, touch, move, work, and heal… through me. I accept this as my daily reality. I invite Christ to make my heart the principal site of his activity, his home base in my circle of influence, and then I try to “do what I see my Father doing.”
Father, would you please strengthen us with power in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith? You will? You are? Thank you, Lord. I receive this amazing gift! Help me not to forget or squander it.