Many times in my journey I find that I subconsciously coalesce with the pharisaical spirit that values knowledge and mastery of God's word over the transformative implementation that changes who we are. Summed up simply, I value knowledge over being. This is a massive problem, one that God brings to my attention over and over. Jesus continually shows that if what we know doesn't become who we are, then we are fools. Paul captures this idea too, that we must be "transformed by the renewing of your minds." (Interesting side note, they have done studies on the brains of taxi drivers in London, showing that their immaterial thoughts change the physical structure of their brains. Look it up!) We're not to just think the right thoughts, but allow our beliefs to totally transform our beings, and our brains. Reading Ephesians has allowed God to bring this back to my attention, beckoning me to become more like Jesus, to "fix my eyes on [his] ways," so that I can more adequately follow them.
The third chapter of Ephesians ends with a magnificent prayer, one of my favorites throughout scripture. Paul so beautifully captures the seemingly ineffable desire of our innermost man, that we
may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:18)
The greek verb for comprehend implies effort, to lay ahold of something. It's not just a passive receiving of the fullness of Christ's love, it is an active pursuit of it. Verse 9 confirms this by describing the love as that which "surpasses knowledge." This is no intellectual experiment; it has more to do with a way of being than knowing. If we don't allow the reality of love of Christ to result in a different way of being, then we are deluding ourselves into thinking we are growing as Christians just because our heads are getting larger. Every furthering of our understanding of Christ should be followed by a furthering of obedience and reorientation of our lives to respond to that new understanding. We should view our relationship with Christ less like a noun, i.e. something like "salvation," and see it more as a verb.
Recently we have been greatly challenged by the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Andrea and I have been listening to his biography as we traverse the universe looking for support. In line with Kierkegaard, another great Christian thinker, he proposes that if you don't live your theology, then your theology isn't worth squat. Bonhoeffer allowed the truth of scripture to change his actions, resulting in his death in a Nazi prison. Paul understands this intimately, and calls us to a different sort of existence, which creates space for us to "be filled with all the fullness of God." Bring it!