Easter is a time to celebrate our victory in Christ Jesus which was achieved through Christ’s death and resurrection. The Easter story is a love story, vividly demonstrating God’s love for mankind. He unreservedly gave His best, for our redemption. We were not deserving, and He did not have to redeem us, but He chose to. Indeed, by this we know unconditional love.
When the year 2023 was about to start, I found myself meditating more frequently about God’s Love and His command to love Him with all of my heart, strength and might and to love others as I love myself. Over the years, in my walk with the Lord, I have learnt that one of the ways God speaks to us is through impressing a message in our spirit, and consequently we tend to meditate on such a message more often within a set period of time. The appointed time could be a few days, weeks, months and sometimes years. The message of Love has lingered in my spirit for about four months now, and the more I stay on the message in prayerful reading of His Word and meditation, I have not only learnt/ re-learnt the way of love but have also been convicted and transformed to be more of what He wants me to be- A lover of God and a lover of His people! Glory to His Holy Name.
On April 6th, I was awakened unusually earlier and so had more than the usual time for quiet time. I am currently reading the book of Ephesians and so when I started out Ephesians 3, my spirit leaped when I got to verse 16 to 19. I read and re-read, meditated, and read some more. Such moments almost always result to a time of prayer when I talk with God about what He is talking to me about.
As I took a three hour bus drive from Hakodate to Tomakomai, in Japan, I meditated on this Treasure of God’s Word that I had found that morning. Please note that I have read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians many times, and I consider it among my favorite of Paul’s letters. This is the beauty of God’s Word: there are so many gems and treasures therein, we can never exhaust uncovering them.
Paul makes several profound prayers for the Church in Ephesus. Ephesians 3:16-19 is one of those profound prayers.
Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Paul starts off the prayer by reminding us that God is the source of glorious riches, and it is out of that abundance, that He is willing and able to strengthen our inner man with power, through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Sadly, many believers today are power-hungry but not agape-love-hungry. The result is abuse of power, pride, rebellion, manipulation and extortion. Power for the sake of power is not what God has called the believer to. God’s power is His divine enablement upon mankind for fulfillment of His purposes, and not for attainment of personal ambitions and self gratification. I suppose that such a misdirected desire for power causes us to be untrustworthy before God, thus God cannot entrust us with the power that we seek, for the preservation of our souls.
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, He encouraged His disciples that it was for their good that He was to go away, so that the Spirit of God may come. When the Spirit comes, we receive power to confess Jesus Christ as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3) and to dwell in Him even as He dwells in us (Ephesians 3:17). Our spirit testifies with His Spirit that we are children of God, and we can confidently call Him Abba Father!- Romans 8:15-16.
Secondly, when the Spirit comes, He pours agape love into our hearts (Romans 5:5) such that we are able to love God with all of our hearts, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). The source of agape love is God. He is love (1 John 4:8). It is therefore effort in futility to strive to live a life the exhibits agape love, without having been restored to relationship with God (1 John 4:10-11).
Please be reminded that love is a fruit of the Spirit. Every time we depart for the way of the Spirit, or we fall out of step with the Spirit, we compromise our capacity to love God and to love fellow man as ourselves. Are you struggling in your love for God and your love for fellow man? Perhaps you have left the way of the Spirit. Repent, and be restored in your love for God and fellow man. In this season of Easter, pray that the Lord will renew your love for Him and for fellow man.
I believe that God’s cry for the Church today is for us to restored to love, and to be rooted and established in love. Why has the hunger for the Word of God died out in many believers’ lives? Where did the thirst for prayer go that we hardly make time for personal and corporate prayer? Why is it so difficult for believers excelling in a specific grace to join together and do the work of ministry without strive, factions, dissension and mistrust arising? Why are minimally witnessing the “love-in-deed” in believers’ lives, which is contrary to the early Church (Acts 2:42-46), such that the rich did not have too much and the poor did not have too little? Why is attending fellowships for many believers a struggle?
Am I being too hard on believers? Forgive me if you feel that I am. Perhaps, the discomfort may be a good indicator that we have left the path of love. The Church (believers; you and I) has been busy pursuing many things. Perhaps, before we embark on the next project or set up the next crusade, or we gather for the next gathering, we need to pray that the Lord will restore us individually and corporately to love. Love was the foundation of the early Church and no wonder we see admirable consistency of God’s working from Acts 2 (the Day of Pentecost), all the way through the book, to the last chapter.
It is love that held the Church together despite differences in personality, social status, cultural and racial backgrounds, tastes and preferences, among others. It is love that motivated them to do ministry (not self-ambition). It is love that enabled them to endure, and to pay the high cost of being found at the center of God’s will. It is love that made them leave their comforts to preach the Gospel. It is love that glued them together, despite their individual uniqueness. It was love that made them an effective witness of Jesus Christ. It was their undivided love for God that caused them to remain grounded, as the Lord lifted them up from one glory to another, confirming their message with signs, miracles and wonders.
Teachings on the foundational truth of Love have been rare in our times. Yet God is calling us back to this foundational truth, which needs to be our “True North” in all that we do.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
God desires that we be rooted and established in love. What does this mean? A believer’s life should be such that he/she is inseparable with love. All that he/she says, does, thinks and desires should be directed and motivated by love. Just like plants ooze out the sap, believers should ooze out agape love. How are they to do so? By remaining connected to the Chief Cornerstone, for He is the Fountain of Love.
Paul makes this prayer for individual believers as well as the Body of Christ (together with all Lord’s holy people). Lord I pray that you will restore me to loving you with all that is within me, and to loving my neighbour as I love my self. Lord, restore us as the Body of Christ in the Nation of Kenya and the Nations of the world to love you with all that is within us, and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. I repent for where we have not exhibited your love and I pray that many will know your love through us.
Lord, reveal to us once again the nature of your love. It’s depths, breadth and height are beyond measure (Ephesians 3:18). I pray that this revelation will cause me to lay down my life for fellow man, just like Christ lay His life for me. The Agape love, unlike knowledge which puffs up, is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, does not keep a record of wrong, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, protects, trusts, hopes and preserves (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Indeed, that love surpasses knowledge.
I pray that as we realign our lives back to the foundational truth of Love, that you will fill us to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). Lord, fill us up this Easter. May our cups overflow with your Love!