Last week (5.8.11) Lane touched on several distinguishing factors for our life in Christ – essentially what God has done for us. We saw that God has chosen, predestined, forgiven, obtained, and sealed us. I ended that post by saying what I’m praying for and through – that God would give me a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and that I would be thankful for all that God has done for me. That coincidentally was a great segue into this past week’s text in the last half of Ephesians 1.
Lane brought out three ways that our gratitude should motivate us… three things that we should be doing if we truly have a thankful heart toward God.
First, we should be praying to know God (v.17) We only know God because he wants us to know him, and has made himself known to us. This is a precious truth found in verse 17 – Paul is praying that God would give us a spirit of revelation and wisdom in our knowledge of him. So it’s not just enough to know God, but rather that we should also be growing in wisdom and relationship with God. Now, if you’re anything like me, this makes you squirm in your seat a little, because in my weird little world knowledge is knowing. I find out stuff and learn about something and then I know it. I relate through knowledge. This is also why I love the Wikipedia app on my iPhone, but that’s neither here nor there. What Lane was getting at is the idea that we must cease the pursuit of purely factual knowledge and seek to truly know our God. In other words, it’s not enough to read the stats on the back of God’s baseball card – we must meet him and know him. And we must pray that we know him.
Second, we should be praying that our being (identity) would be illumined (v.18) Contrary to what much of the world would say, we are not merely biological creatures going about physiological and chemical processes before we expire. We are spiritual beings with souls and consciences – in short, we are image-bearers of God. And if we respond to God’s self revelation, by placing our faith in Christ, then we are his spiritual beings. At that point our identity is completely irrevocably changed in an awesomely good way. But so many things mess with our heads and captivate our affections, and we tend to place our identity in something other than God. Lane offered a godly response: our greatest joy is that in which we place our highest hope, and this leads to worship. So then we must place our hope in Christ alone and nothing else, which will fuel Christ-exalting worship, and we will have our identity firmly rooted where it should be: in Christ alone. And if we are children of God, then we have a precious status as his children – we have worth, value, and significance. So we must faithfully follow Christ and worship him for making us his own when we were formerly unworthy.
Third, we should be praying that the power of god would be made known in and through our lives (v.19) God is a miracle-worker. He is Creator, sustainer, rescuer, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-glorious. We are not. We humans cannot heal brokenness or save souls, but God can and he will because he is both good and sovereign. And not only can God do those things, but he wants to do them in and through us as his people. So we are the ones working with God, and he is at work through us to glorify himself and to bring light to this dark world. Our Jesus is the head of all creation and the church, and he is at work reconciling the two by the amazing work of his people – and we know that it will be accomplished. So we are working by the power of the Spirit to demonstrate the mighty power and wisdom of God in this world for his glory out of a heart of worship and thankfulness. And that is why we spread the Gospel, reach into our communities to be salt and light, and why we gather to worship our risen King.
So these thoughts on this really cool text came to mind, and I’ll be working through them in the next couple of weeks.
Am I praying to know God, or just asking him to do me favors? What am I praying for, and why? Does my prayer life betray my priorities and the things I place my hope in?
Where do I place my identity, and what does that lead me to worship?
Where is God’s power being demonstrated in my life? Along those lines, coupled with 2 Corinthians 12:9, where is my weakness that God is sustaining me and glorifying himself in?
So be praying for and with me that we would make much of Christ in the coming weeks, and that we would truly know our God and not just know about him. This is such a huge temptation for me with my education and background – to merely reduce my relationship with God to facts and trivia. I want to know my God and love what he loves, and hate what he hates, and be who he wants me to be. Would you pray for these things with me?