Comprehending the Love of Christ
In-Person or Virtual
Ask your group members to name things that are considered very tall, wide, long, deep, or far. Examples might include a blue whale, the Empire State Building, Mount Everest, the Mariana Trench, the size of Jupiter, and the distance to Neptune. For in-person groups, the leader should write what group members say on chart paper or a whiteboard so everyone can see. For virtual groups, the leader can use the screen sharing feature to type what everyone says.
Next, have each group member choose a different item on the list and use their phone to look up the actual size or distance. The leader should add this information to the chart.
As a group, discuss how tall, wide, long, deep, and far these things are. Can your brain comprehend such sizes or distances? Now discuss how the love of Christ compares to all of these things. Can you comprehend Christ’s love for you? How does this encourage you or give you a new perspective on Christ’s love?
Asking for the Moon
In-Person or Virtual
Have your group discuss the following mixer question: If you could ask God for anything and know He would say yes, what would you ask for? Do you pray like this on a daily basis? Why or why not? Have a volunteer read Ephesians 3:20. Do you believe this?
1. Did you write down or think of anything from the message or passage, Ephesians 3:14-21, you would like to act upon?
(Intent: Leaders may have the group share their actions either now or during the prayer and application time. For each person who shares, ask for a group member to volunteer to call them in a few days to see how it’s going with their action.)
2. Read Ephesians 3:14. What do you think about kneeling, or posture in general, in prayer?
(Intent: Some thoughts: Kneeling is a recognition of the authority and power of the one before whom we are bowing. It is also a visible expression of submission and humility. In the Bible, it is a form of worship. Ultimately, it is symbolic of our heart posture before our Lord. See Ps. 95:6 and Mt. 17:14, 20:20.)
3. Read v.15. A. Who is “every family in heaven and on earth”? B. What is the significance of this “family” being named from the Father?
(Intent: A. John Wesley viewed this as “the whole family of angels in heaven, saints in paradise, and believers on earth.” This could be referred to as the family of God, who are brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, by the shed blood of Jesus. The Greek word for family is closely related to the word for father in verse 14. B. It is a lineage leading back to a father—in this case, a spiritual one. Our common origin is in our Heavenly Father and creator. Paul reminds the Ephesians that, ultimately, our identity as a people of faith comes from the Father. Whereas the Jews looked to Abraham as their “father,” in Christ, the Church—both Jewish and Gentile believers—is united as one family under our common Heavenly Father.)
4. Take a look at vv. 16-19. A. What does Paul pray the Lord would do for the Ephesian church? B. What does Paul say is the goal of his prayer? C. Who is a person(s) you will pray for in a similar fashion this week?
(Intent: A. Strengthen them with power through the Holy Spirit, for the purpose addressed in part B of this question. B. That (1) they would be “rooted and grounded” in Christ’s love, (2) Christ would indwell them by way of their faith in Him, so that (3) they would have spiritual understanding and know intimately and experientially the vast and surpassing love of Christ, and that (4) they would be filled completely with God.)
5. A. What is the difference between “comprehending” and “knowing” the love of Christ? B. How have you experienced that love?
(Intent: A. The Greek here translated as “comprehend” gives a sense of seizing hold, capturing, overtaking. Paul is praying for them to have strength to grasp for an understanding. In contrast, “knowing” implies something that has been internalized, that we have come to know. We can never fully understand Christ’s love, but we can know it in a different sense by experiencing it. A head-knowledge of Jesus only gets us so far; we have to experience His love to truly know Him. B. We should each pray for and desire to both comprehend and experience Christ’s love. Encourage your group to think about whether they truly know His love experientially—heart knowledge—or have been satisfied with simply trying to comprehend his love from a “safe distance”—head knowledge.)
6. Read vv. 20-21. Here, Paul praises God for His power to answer our prayers. A. Considering Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (vv.16-19), what should we also be asking God to do for us (i.e., what was Paul asking for in his prayer)? B. How does God answer our prayers? (Hint: What is the “power at work within us”?)
(Intent: A. v. 20 is often interpreted as something that God can do outside of us to change our circumstances (e.g., get the promotion or remove a difficult person from our lives). However, in the immediate context, Paul was asking that the Ephesians would have an experiential knowledge of Christ’s love. So it would follow that he means that God is able to do much more in changing our own hearts toward Jesus than we are able to “ask or imagine.” B. God changes our hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit, who is our constant companion and witness to Christ’s love. The Lord so deeply desired to be in communion with us that He paid the ultimate price at the cross and gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. The Holy Spirit is always pointing us toward Christ’s love, glorifying Him in our hearts and minds.)
Given all the power that the Father has, we should each be expectant that He will do “far more abundantly” than we ask. Use this time as a group to proclaim how He has exceeded your expectations and desires, and encourage one another toward thankfulness and praise as you move into prayer.
Have everyone draw the name of someone in your group from a bowl (or assign a name to each person in virtual groups). Each person should choose one or more aspects of Paul’s prayer to pray over the name that they drew. For example, they might pray that they would be strengthened with the Holy Spirit’s power in some specific way, or that Christ would dwell in their heart, or that they would comprehend the love of Christ, or God would do abundantly more than they would ask or think in their life.