My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
I know I am guilty of trying to do things in my own 'brute strength' from time to time, but that 'brute strength' doesn't always help me get it done as well as I'd like. When God's inner strength is what is innervating my actions, the outcome is quite different. His strength comes by simply opening the door. How many times we keep that door so tightly shut, avoiding at all cost any 'interference' in what we are doing in our lives. This may not seem significant at first, but let me tell you that when it applies to 'interfering' within our relationships, keeping those doors tightly shut to God's 'inner strength' and relying upon our own 'brute strength' alone is kind of foolish. Why? God's power to overcome within our relationships is really not available to us until we invite him squarely into the middle of those relationships.
Invite Christ into your relationships and you will realize there are dimensions of growth that have never happened in your own brute strength. In fact, the relationship is probably superficial and limited. Why? Depth of love is only possible where Christ is allowed entrance and access into the relationship! Both feet planted firmly on love - this doesn't just happen - this is a result of both individuals knowing Christ, giving him first place, and then learning how to walk together in the grace and wisdom he brings within that relationship. Do you know what happens next? He shows us the extravagant dimensions of his love. Dimensions really speak to his 'bigness' - the largeness of his love to overlook things on occasion, lift each other up when it may not be the easiest to do, and give when we don't feel like there is anything left to give.
Within relationships there come times when we find them a little bit of a 'test' for our own strength. Maybe that is why God tells us to not rely upon that strength - because the testing will cause us to fail if we rely upon that 'brute' strength. Brute strength is really exercised without thought or former consideration. No wonder God doesn't want us to count on it! He wants us to give forethought to our actions - wise choices aren't accidental - they are intentional. Another thing to consider about 'brute strength' is that it is 'unreasoning' strength. There doesn't have to be a whole lot of 'backing' to the strength - it doesn't consider the consequences - it just acts. Within relationship this can be very damaging because actions without forethought can lead down a path of hurtfulness, harm, and devastation.
We live 'full relationships' when we live 'full lives' in Christ Jesus. Every good and solidly growing relationship puts Christ at the center and grows from there. He is the 'seed' of all good things that come from within that relationship. No seed - no growth. Brute strength - overpowering, awkward, unfulfilling actions. God's strength - wise choices, grace-filled actions, and purposeful intent. Do you see the difference? God's place within our relationships is in the middle - where two or three are gathered in his presence - there he is. Where he is - that isn't a place where reliance upon 'brute strength' is the norm - it is the place where the reliance upon 'godly strength' is a constant! Just sayin!
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