Growing in your knowledge of God
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
— Ephesians 1:15-17
The Apostle Paul had a very special place in his heart for the city of Ephesus and for the Christians there. After all, he had spent three long years in that city and so much had happened during that time. He and his good friends, Aquila and Priscilla, had patiently taught God’s word there, in spite of considerable opposition from both Jews and Greeks. It had been hard going right from the start, for Ephesus was a city renowned for its sorcery; it was also the stronghold of the Greek goddess Artemis, and her supporters were not likely to give up easily. At least once he landed up in prison in Ephesus, and even suffered the threat of being taken out to the Great Roman Theatre to face the lions there. Things went from bad to worse and eventually there was a riot, stirred up by a man called Demetrius and his silversmith colleagues, who were understandably upset that they might be losing trade as a result of Paul’s preaching. On this occasion he barely escaped with his life, but such was his conviction in the importance of the task given to him that he never worried about his life anyway.
For him the huge cost had been well worth it, for through all this turmoil a small and thriving church had been born — people with a strong faith in God and a deep love for God’s people everywhere — and this gave him a great sense of joy. That is why he thanked God for the Ephesian Christians, why he prayed for them every day and wanted the very best for them. He had invested so much in that growing church and he wanted them to grow even more — not just in numbers, but more importantly in their knowledge of God.
And so, out of the depths of such intense difficulties in the early days in Ephesus, some of the most sublime passages of scripture emerged. Paul wanted them to know, “the riches of God’s glorious inheritance … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength … his manifold wisdom.” He prayed too that they might have “the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know his love that surpasses knowledge.”
We too can grow in this same knowledge, but let us not forget that difficult times might be part of the growing process. And let us not forget either that this is not something to be kept to ourselves. On the contrary, if we have already shared our faith journey with others thus far, we will not want to stop thanking God for them. Indeed, we will want to pray for them constantly, so that they too will grow to know God better.
— Walter Raymond, Christchurch