On several occasions this week my wife told me, through tears, how heavy her heart felt due to the political landscape and Christians who apparently leave their witness at the social media sign-in page. If you need more evidence of the rancor, just skim the comments section of my last post.
But my wife’s heaviness caused us to talk about something else. Something much better.
Our government is important. But for a moment, we considered the incomparable riches of our faith. The Apostle Paul talks about faith as being rooted in Christ. Have you ever tried to remove a flower, shrub, or tree that was deeply rooted? Sometimes its rootedness forces you to grab a hatchet. This is the picture of a rooted faith. And what comes of such faith?
Our rootedness clings to the spiritual soil of Christ himself. What nourishment we receive from him? What strength? What beauty? What hope?
This morning, we hope. Not in ourselves, but in a power greater. Much greater.
The Apostle Paul talks about this power in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus. Paul wrote this letter, which was circulated widely among the Christian community, while he was imprisoned in Rome. Some scholars refer to this letter as “the distilled essence of the Christian religion.” Indeed, Christianity’s message reminds us of the power of hope.
It is a power that pours from God’s “glorious riches”, through his Spirit, into the soul of those who follow Jesus. What a mystery; simmering just there, overshadowing our despair.
Some, like Jonathan Edwards, say God’s Spirit is also that which beautifies the world. Literally, his Joy reaching into our space and time. The Spirit of power and wonder; sanctifying “intelligent beings by communicating God’s love (which he is) to them.” And so beauty and love connect and speak to us, encouraging our hearts.
An Immeasurable Depth
This spiritual power within us lets us know that Christ himself is with us. The strength of our faith directly strengthens our hope. When we live by this faith and hope, we encounter something immeasurable: the depth of God’s love.
We need his Spirit in order to plumb its depths. But we can know this love, even if we cannot fully grasp it. For it is the Christ, Jesus himself. How far can we fall into his love? For forever.
It is not a love that warms. It is a love that feeds. It surpasses our knowledge. It defines the contours of his grace. It shapes the infinite curves of his mercy.
We all of us need his love. Because we want to live, yes. But because once we’ve tasted it, we can never again be without it. It emboldens us, daring us to fall further into him. To know him, more.
Let us taste and see, friends. Let us shine with the wonder of his Spirit. Let us give hope, as we cling to its source.
In America, things feel as if they are spinning out of control. And too often we treat spiritual reflection as mere religious practice. Though the spiritual life may not be fashionable in a culture where secular orthodoxy rules, it is an essential aspect of human flourishing. For Christians, the spiritual informs and directs every aspect of life.
The Apostle Paul’s message to the Christians in Ephesus was meant to paint a picture of the church’s position in the world. He does this by reminding Christians of their past without Christ, and then what a life looks like when governed by the love offered by Christ.
When my wife and I discussed the vitriol saturating digital communication, it caused pangs of despair. But it was our faith that reminded us of the divine signature that transcends politics.
“Faith, hope, and love … but the greatest of these is love.”