March 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
As we read Ephesians today, we rightly read it as if it is God’s personal word to us. Even though this letter was written almost two millennia ago, it speaks to our deepest needs and widest dreams. It expands our minds and quickens our hearts. Ephesians is, indeed, part of God’s Word for us.
Yet, by reading Ephesians so personally, we can easily forget that this letter was once written to a community of people (or, as is likely, to multiple communities, including the church of Ephesus). Moreover, because we read this letter in an English translation, we may overlook the fact that the second person words in this letter, the “yous” and “yours,” are plural, not singular. As will become abundantly clear later in Ephesians, Paul is not writing to a bunch of separate, individual Christians, but rather to interconnected communities.
Why is it important to remember this now? Because it affects our reading of Ephesians 1:17 and our sense of how we can know God better. If we read this verse simply as God’s Word to us individually, we would fail to reflect upon the communal dimensions of Paul’s prayer. He is asking God to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation not to separate individuals but to individuals joined together in community.
Therefore, in our quest to know God better, let’s remember that we are not alone. We should not think of ourselves in this way. God may indeed uncover some aspect of his truth to us personally, when we are alone with him in prayer, for example. But when this happens, it is usually not just for us. It is also for our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is truth to be shared.
This means that if you want get to know God better, you need to be meaningfully involved in a Christian community. Here, you will learn from the wisdom and revelation given to others. Here, you will help others know God better by sharing with them what he has shown you. Knowing God better isn’t something you’re supposed to do alone. Rather, you will develop a deeper understanding of God as a member of Christ’s body along with your brothers and sisters in God’s family.
Something to Think About:
How have you come to know God better through the ministry of your sisters and brothers in Christ?
Can you think of something you have recently learned about God from someone else in your church? This could have happened through a sermon, a discussion in a small group, or even a casual comment among friends.
In what contexts are you learning about God from others? In what contexts do you share with others what God has shown you?
Something to Do:
If you are in a small group with other Christians, renew our commitment to making this a place where you grow in your knowledge of God. Talk about this in your group. If you are not in a group, ask the Lord whether this might be time for you to form or join one.
Gracious God, thank you for not leaving me alone in this world. Thank you for adopting me into your family so that I might know you and serve you in fellowship with my Christian siblings.
Help me, Lord, to be deeply connected to this family. Help me to be in places where I can learn from others and where I can share with them what you are teaching me. Reveal more of yourself to us as we seek together to know you. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Vocation in the Context of Community (Acts 13:1-3)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.