I’m reading in Ephesians 4 today, and may I first just mention that I have fallen in love with the Complete Jewish Bible? Somehow it brings out so many ideas that my eyes just slide right over in other versions. For instance, the end of verse 13 is translated in nearly every other popular version as “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Okay, fine. But here is the CJB: “at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah’s perfection.” It does say the same thing, but somehow, it’s much clearer to me what it really means in that translation. I’m loving it!
The thought that grabbed me today was fullness and filling. Verse 10 ends with, “so that He might fill all things.” Filling is an amazingly pervasive theme in the Bible. God filled the earth with life at Creation, He filled the people’s bellies during the Exodus, His glory filled the tabernacle and the temple, and best of all, He offers to fill us with His Holy Spirit!
Filling is, in fact, so commonly used throughout Scripture that I’ve never really stopped to think about it before. You know how sometimes the most basic, everyday fact will suddenly pop into your head with an insistent newness, blaring its obviousness? An A-HA moment, I call it. I had an A-HA moment about filling this morning.
You can’t fill something if it is already full.
I know…it’s not exactly rocket science. But it IS important. It had never really penetrated to the deepest places of my brain that filling had a prerequisite: emptiness!
Being filled with the fullness of God…I have mulled that one before, picturing the sweetness of His incredible Spirit washing down over me, then spilling out from me to others. But wait! It shouldn’t spill just over me—but into me and through me!
I have a tendency to forget that I am a container. I think of myself as solid, but the truth is that I am little more than vapor. This earthly body (and all of Creation, actually) actually consists mostly of empty space. (link) God created us empty inside. Everything is essentially emptiness. He even says that it is only by His Son that we are held together. (link) Only in Him can we live and move and exist. ( link)
Since God created us empty, we yearn to be filled. Somehow it is our nature to fill empty spaces. And unfortunately, too many times, we have filled that empty space with self. We spend too much time thinking of what we like, what we want, what our plans are.
But GOD wants to fill us. He wants us to be drenched in Him—inside and out! Not just showered or bathed, but filled in all the cracks and crevices and hidden places, to the very depths of our being! Not only filled as our lungs and digestive tracts are, but every cell, every molecule, every atom of our bodies FILLED to bursting with His richness, His completeness.
Also I pray that you will be rooted and founded in love, so that you, with all God’s people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of the Messiah’s love, yes, to know it, even though it is beyond all knowing, so that you will be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19
ALL the fullness! Did you catch that? All the fullness of GOD. GOD’S fullness! Is that incredible or what? No…it’s beyond incredible!
And here’s the catch. HE cannot fill us if we are already full. Are you full of yourself? Are you wallowing in the plans that you have, rather than trusting in the plans HE has for you? (link) Let go of your plans and let Him do the planning! Empty yourself of yourself so that HE can fill you. Your fullness is an illusion–it is only His that works. Don’t let worthless imitations get in the way of the real thing. Let the emptiness within you that begs to be filled receive the only true Fullness that exists.
Because after all, You are his body, the full expression of him who fills all creation.
Amen. Fill me, Lord. Inside and out.