A life-changing event occurred in the summer of 1969. Just when I thought we were settled (having just moved during the summer of 1967), the decision was made by my father to accept the invitation to minister in Louisville. That is when the weight room became my chosen sphere for physical renewal. Though I had played several sports in the past, the focus was now on excelling in football. Power had become a key word. In addition to power-lifting, there were vitamin and mineral tablets guaranteed to increase your power. My favorite was the “milkshake” that was loaded with power-enhancing ‘stuff.’
The Sphere for Spiritual Renewal
Little did I realize at that time that there were far more important changes that needed to be made. Another sphere of my life needed renewed that involved a much greater power. I needed (and continue to need) spiritual renewal. Paul addresses both the reason and the power for this need in his letter to the Ephesian Christians. It is a prayer for us as well.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength 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, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14–19, ESV).
The reason he bows in prayer is that he did not want the Christians at Ephesus to “lose heart” over what he was suffering for them. In this prayer, however, the reason he prays that they will be “strengthened with power” is so that Christ would dwell in their hearts. This is the sphere that is the focus – “your inner being.”
Power for the Inner Being
“Your inner being” is a uniquely Pauline phrase in the New Testament (cf. Rom. 7:22; 2 Cor. 4:16). Paul seems to be pointing to the sphere of personal consciousness. It is the strengthening of our wills, the need for strength in our moral being. This is the sphere (focal point) where the Spirit does his strengthening and renewing work. Indeed, we need that empowering for our struggle against sin (Rom. 7:21). We also need that power for daily renewal (2 Cor. 4:16).
At this stage in my life I realize that the ‘outer person’ is wasting away. Attempts at physical renewal are now quite tame compared to those days when my life was lived in the gym. However, the ‘inner person’ needs to be renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). In the context of both 2 Corinthians 4 and the passage quoted above, the heart is placed parallel to the ‘inner person’. My heart needs stronger rooting and grounding in love. As for my mind, it needs less academic reading and more quiet time and devotional reading. And the big hammer (“strengthened with power”) needs to strike hard in the sphere of my decision making (will). I pray for this strength – for myself and for all of you!