Here is my commentary on Ephesians 3:17. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, http://www.new-life.org.au
“… So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in faith…”
Paul is continuing his prayer for the Ephesians (and for us).
The previous verse was a prayer that they receive power through the Spirit of God. He finishes that sentence now.
The prayer to receive this power is directed to the result that ”Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Some theologians disapprove of “asking Jesus into your heart.” Jesus is in heaven so it does not make sense, they claim. Buy here Paul is explicitly stating that Christ does live in our hearts.
To state the obvious, this is not a reference to our physical hearts. There is not a Christ – shaped hole in our heart that Jesus slots into when we pray the sinner’s prayer.
The heart is often used as a synonym for the soul, which is the seat of our character, will, and emotions. Paul is praying that Christ will come and fill our souls.
That raises the question of what it means to have Christ in our hearts or souls. To me, it means that we give over that part of our being, our internal life to him. In other words, we are no longer self-directed, but Christ – directed. We are no longer living a marred, sinful life, but one which is clean and sinless. We don’t do what we want to do, but what Christ wants us to do.
The prayer is that Christ dwells in our hearts. He makes the place his habitation, his home, and is not just a visitor .
This means that we allow the Holy Spirit to direct us. We daily invite the Lord to be present in our hearts in everything, and seek to hand over our desires and plans to him.
This is a lifelong process that should not end this side of Heaven.
Some people seem contend to have Christ steer their lives at home and church, but work is a different matter where the customs and rules of the business world dominate.
Other people allow Him in sporadically. They might have a spiritual experience at a camp or conference, and they know that Christ is with them for a few weeks. But then it is back to the old ways until the next “high.”
Christ wants to dwell in our hearts – to stay there every day.
When Christ is dwelling in our hearts, then we can be rooted and grounded in love.
The word for love here is agape, the totally selfless and unfailing love that God has for us. With Christ dwelling in our hearts, the very embodiment of agape love, then we can know that we are loved unconditionally.
God’s agape love, transforms a person’s life. Many of us suffer feelings of shame, rejection, unworthiness, and so on. We have been hurt, bullied, or abandoned. But God’s love heals the traumas of living in a sin-filled world.
We need to be rooted and established in God’s love. Love, to be effective, needs to be constant. God’s love is constant, but our ability to believe and receive it is not.
To be rooted in God’s love means that we grow deep emotional and spiritual roots in him. Paul describes this as “by faith.” In other words, we taste the love of God and by faith we learn to live in it.
Trees that only grow shallow roots are vulnerable to being blown over in storms or dying of dehydration in droughts. Only trees that push their roots deep into the soil will live a full and long life.
We must push our roots deep into the love of God so that, even when God seems to be absent, we trust in his provision, persistence, and protection.
Key points in this verse
- Christ wants to dwell in our hearts, that is to make His home there
- We need to learn to be Christ- directed rather than self-directed
- We need to put deep spiritual and emotional roots into God’s love
- God’s love heals us of the hurts that come from living in a sin-filled world