I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms …
Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV)
Read: Ephesians 1
Consider: Enlightenment comes about through gaining insight and understanding, usually through applying one’s mind and reason to a particular situation. The great movements of enlightenment (e.g. the Scottish Enlightenment and the European Enlightenment) are typical of what happened in the 18th and 19th centuries. These movements led to great strides in science, education and health care. The major problem with these movements was the concentration on the humanist/rationalist view, to the exclusion of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he says that he prays for them to be enlightened (may understand, come to know) the hope to which they have been called. Paul is not asking the Ephesians to ignore their reasoning (as so many humanists and rationalists would have us believe Christianity does), but to use their reasoning to gain a better understanding of the basis of their faith.
Paul is aware that those who commit their lives to Christ start off with a partial understanding of their faith. Paul prays that they may come to know their faith better. He’s not talking here about church governance, forms of worship, or denominational beliefs. What he is talking about is coming to know God better; that day-by-day they may really understand the basis of who God is and the power that is available to them.
In Paul’s eyes he can rely upon God because of who God is and this is evidenced by the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead. Elsewhere in Paul’s letters (1 Corinthians 15) he argues for the logic of the resurrection, showing that if the resurrection didn’t happen then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. Here in Ephesians he is pointing out that as God raised Jesus from the dead, this shows that God has the power to regenerate us.
Pray: Father, help us to understand more and more that the basis of our faith is the immutable fact of who you are. Our hope is not based on a lack of evidence, but on the evidence of what you achieved through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen