"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. [...] For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."
Ephesians 5:1-2 & 8-10
If I had to pick a favorite book of the Bible, it would probably be Ephesians. I remember my first real time encountering the book as a whole was junior year, KP Bible study, when Jordan led us through the book. I still have some of his notes at home, and I still remember and love so much the example he brought from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was a great Bible study, and through that year, and all the struggles it involved, I feel like I finally started diving into the Word. And that was great.
But back to Ephesians.
Paul has so many incredibly important things to say about how we are to live. We are to understand the Lord's will (verse 17). What a weighty claim... I mean, I have always understood God's will to be unable to be grasped. He is a mystery and so huge, and what He has planned is so far beyond what we could understand. I didn't know we had the capacity to understand His will. This is so beyond me.
He also states that we should be filled with the Spirit (verse 18). Paul's language here is almost demanding; he is commanding us to be filled with the Spirit. But is this something over which we have any control? Do we have any responsibility insofar that the Spirit fills us? Can we decide 'Oh, today I think I'll be Spirit-filled'? I've always though that the Spirit moves on His own. He is within us and we have no control over that. But, I don't know, maybe it is more conscious. As we grow in the Lord, and make choices toward righteousness, striving toward humility with the grace of God, the Spirit fills us more and more. We are the balloons Pastor Tim was talking about, being inflated, stretched, grown, all by and in Him.
That is really exciting actually. God is so great to us. So incredibly loving. What could we possibly want to do besides live a life of love as Christ and sacrifice?
Sing each other psalms,
Sing and make music in your heart
To the Lord.
Wake up, O Sleeper!
Rise up, and Christ will shine on you!
God's love is just the most overpowering thing ever, and honestly, when everything gets boiled down, God's love is what's most important. We are to live lives of love as children of light. There is no compromising on this rule. The two most important commands God gives us are to love Him and to love each other.
So when it's said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," this means that our salvation comes only through love. It is the source of our lives, and without His love we would not be breathing.
I feel like we should not be striving to experience that love. If you're looking for some emotional experience as an end to itself, there's probably something wrong. God's love is so surrounding us that we should experience it whenever we come in contact with anyone else. God's love should be so overflowing in our lives, there should not be a moment where we are thinking, 'Hmm, I wish I could experience God's love right now.' We experience it at every moment; each breath, each person, each small prayer.
"Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit. [...] I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me."
One last word from Paul:
"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 saints, 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."