In I Kings, it says about the completion of the temple Solomon had built,
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. (10-11)
Just as the glory of the Lord filled the temple, God desires that his church be filled with all the fullness of his glory. And that’s what Paul prays for here.
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. (16-19)
Whenever I’ve read this passage in the past, I’ve always taken that “you” as singular. But actually, these “you”s are all plural. And Paul is saying, “I pray that the Spirit would empower you all through his Spirit in your inner being. I pray that you all would be rooted and established in love. I pray that you all may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Of course, I think Paul wanted that for each individual Christian. But as he was writing this, I think he was thinking of them as a unified whole. They were and we are, after all, one in Christ. It is the very point he was hammering home earlier in chapter 2, and continues to do in chapters 3 and 4.
So he was praying, “God, please empower your church through your Spirit working in each person. Lord Jesus dwell in their hearts through their faith in you. Father, may they be rooted in your love for them. May that be the foundation of their lives. And as they root themselves in your love for them, may they also be rooted and established in their love for each other. As they do, may they really start to see and understand how wide, long, high, and deep are the riches of your wisdom and your love. And may the result of all this be that you flood your church with all your fullness, with all your glory, just like you filled Solomon’s temple long ago.”
That’s God’s vision for the church. That we would be his temple, filled with his glory, shining his light to the world.
But the thing to remember is this come about through our own efforts. Rather, it comes about through the work and power of God working in you and the church.
So when you feel discouraged at what you are and what the church is like now, remember that he “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (20)
He can do the miraculous. He can take broken lives and a broken church and turn it into something glorious. All we need to do is start cooperating with him. And ultimately, the day will come when he will be glorified in us and in his Son who bought us with his blood.
So don’t be discouraged. Instead, let us sing as Paul sang,
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (20-21)