The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently planning to build an entirely new society in the middle of the desert. This contemporary society will be called Neom. In Neom, a city called the Line will be 170 kilometers long and 200 meters wide and provide homes for 9 million people. The kingdom is investing hundreds of billions in building this because they don’t believe the country can only survive long-term from oil exports. The project is in the news because what they are proposing is so different. We need to see that the new society God created vastly differs from any other society, then and now even Neom.
Chapter 3 begins with “for this reason” (3:1). This connects what follows to what Paul just said: that through Christ, a new society has been formed that includes everyone: Jew and Gentile (v. 6). This new society prompts Paul to pray for it in verses 14–19. His prayer is that the believers would experience the power of the Holy Spirit and that Christ would dwell in their hearts (vv. 16–17). Paul’s reason for the prayers for the Spirit and Christ dwelling in the heart of believers is that they would know the love of God (v. 19).
Having a relationship with Jesus, knowing the love of God, and being empowered by the Spirit is essential for any sort of new society that is built after a former, divisive society has been torn down. People in the church will need to give grace and show love to one another just as much as they need to receive it. This is a key part of unity, that Paul is continuing to talk through.
How did Chapter 2 end? Talking about unity, what is chapter 3 about? Unity. Then, chapter 4 continues the same theme of unity. Paul is saying there is so much that could divide us, but Jesus levels the playing field. There are no Jews and then everyone else any longer, but now included in God’s chosen people are not just the Jews, but anyone who believes in Jesus. So it is our job as believers in this new society to be unified across the board regardless of background, story, or history because we are all one and equal through Jesus.
You may ask, “How diverse is this new society? Very diverse—and this was groundbreaking for believing Jews who held strictly to a worldview in which everyone who wasn’t Jewish was “unclean.” Paul states in verse 10 that God’s “manifold wisdom” is on display through this plan for unity. The Greek word for “manifold” means “many-colored.” In ancient Greek, this was a word that one might find describing flowers or tapestries. Building on this word, John Stott writes, “The church as a multi-racial, multi-cultural community is like a beautiful tapestry. Its members come from a wide range of colorful backgrounds. No other human community resembles it.”
Now, Paul knows how difficult this is going to be, so he prays for the church that they realize that it is not only God’s love for them, but now in them, that allows them to achieve the unity Paul is speaking of. Christ’s love is total, complete, eternal, and all-encompassing. It reaches every corner of our experience. This passage shows that even as we seek to grasp an understanding of Christ’s love, we will never understand it completely, for it is beyond our comprehension. It is wide—covering the breadth of our own experience and reaching out to the whole world. It is long—continuing the length of our lives and on into eternity. It is high—rising to the heights of our celebration and elation. His love is deep—reaching to the depths of discouragement, despair, and even death.
How big is the love of Christ? how wide? How long? How high? how deep? Paul prays that we will know. We may never fully grasp the measure of Christ’s love for us, but these verses give a hint as to the dimensions. It is as wide as the outstretched arms of the crucified Savior, embracing Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female … reaching out to “whosoever will.” It reaches low enough to touch the most wretched sinners and high enough to reconcile them to a holy God. How big is his love? As big as the cross.
Today, we can work towards the unity of believers that Paul is describing, and when you walk in the doors the next time you step into the church, know that despite all our differences, backgrounds, and history. We are ONE in Christ Jesus