In most areas of our lives, we usually don’t want to settle for average, or OK, we want to maximize our abilities and opportunities. Yet when it comes to our spiritual life, we often settle for mediocrity. Many people have a genuine belief in God, they go to church, get involved here and there and try to avoid the big sins, but they long for more. They desire a deeper connection with God, greater joy in their life, a more constant touch of His peace and presence, but they feel a little stuck in spiritual mediocrity. Well the good news is, God doesn’t want us to be stuck there, He desires for us to experience all the fullness and blessing that can come from a rich relationship with Him. And in Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul offers a prayer for Christians that highlights for us some of the key elements that can help us move beyond good toward great in our pursuit of God.
The baseline of pursuing God
This passage begins with Paul describing a healthy starting point for a pursuit of God. He praises the Ephesian Christians because they are doing well with the basics of pursuing God.
Ephesians 1:15-16 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.
He thanks God because they are excelling with the foundational elements of faith – loving God and loving others. This is the baseline, the irreducible minimum, of what it looks like to follow Jesus, and these fundamentals cannot be set aside.
Yet, Paul wants more for these Christians than the basics, so he continues his prayer for them. In the next verses, he offers a 3-part prayer that reveals to us part of the pathway beyond spiritual mediocrity.
Grow in your knowledge of God
Ephesians 1:16-17 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.
His prayer is for spiritual wisdom and insight that will enable us to move beyond a casual acquaintance knowledge of God, to a deeper, more genuine knowledge. He doesn’t want us to know God like we know the guy we say hi to when we bump into him at the gym once a week, he wants us to know God like a best friend. The only way this will happen is for the Spirit to open up our hearts and minds to His truth – and the only way that will happen is through greater time in the Word and in prayer.
If you want wisdom, insight and that deeper knowledge of God, he has provided a way. It’s through the coming together of His revealed, written Word with the illuminating and guiding power of His Spirit. Both are necessary to the greater wisdom, insight and knowledge that propel us beyond mediocrity. This deeper knowledge helps us with the next step beyond mediocrity.
Develop a hope-giving eternal perspective
Ephesians 2:18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
As long as our hearts and minds are fixated on the earthly here and now, we shouldn’t be surprised when God feels so far away. So it’s vital that we learn to take our eyes of the temporal, passing things of this world and focus more intently on the eternal riches of our inheritance that awaits us in Heaven. This is why the Bible regularly calls us to lift our eyes heavenward, toward the spiritual reality beyond the physical world. The more we set our sights on Heaven, the greater ability we have to weather the challenges of this life and the more we get caught up in our real life which is Christ. Finally, Paul offers one more key to a greater connection with God.
Live a Spirit-empowered life on mission
Ephesians 2:19-20 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Jesus came here empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out a mission: to live a perfect life and then sacrifice his own life for ours in order that we might find eternal life. As his followers, our mission is to help others experience the results of his mission, and the same Holy Spirit who empowered Christ empowers us as well. Yet too often we live with fear, timidity, insecurity when it comes to our mission, we’re scared to really intentionally help other people. But we need to remember that the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead is alive in us enabling us to live for him! And we will only experience the fullness of pursuing God when we chose to use this power to live out our mission.
Don’t settle for a spiritual life that is good, but not great – God wants so much more for you! As you prayerfully seek God’s Word, as you intentionally set your eyes on eternity and as you live on mission with the power of the Holy Spirit, you can move beyond mediocrity to the life in Christ you truly desire.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- What are some areas of life where people often strive for excellence or to be above average?
- What are some examples of a mediocre spiritual life? Why would God not want us to settle for mediocrity in our pursuit of him?
- Read Ephesians 2:15-16. Which is the harder aspect of the baseline of faith that Paul mentions: faith in God or love for people? Why?
- Read Ephesians 2:16-17. What does a casual, acquaintance type knowledge of God look like? What would it look like to have a deeper, more intimate knowledge of God?
- Read 2 Timothy 3:15-17. What are some of the key ways the Bible can help us grow in our knowledge of God?
- Read Ephesians 2:18. What are some of the dangers of a mindset that is primarily focused on the here and now?
- Read Colossians 3:1-3. How can we practically “set our sights” on Heaven on a daily basis?
- Read Ephesians 2:19-20. What causes us to live our lives with timidity and fear? What would a more Spirit-empowered life practically look like?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.