“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.”
(Ephesians 1:18 NIV)
Here’s the same bit in The Message: “I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.”
Could you honestly say that you understand “the immensity of this glorious way of life”?
It’s like slug being invited to consider the perspective of an eagle.
And that’s the problem. The parameters of our vision are so hopelessly limited.
And yet that’s the prayer of Paul. Is it ridiculously optimistic?
We sometimes slip into the error of thinking so. We think ourselves cleverer and more sophisticated, perhaps. Paul didn’t know what we know about astronomy and the immensity of space. He didn’t have a telescope. Nor did he have a microscope. He knew nothing of the myriads of tiny forms of life.
But what do we really know except that there’s so much we don’t know -in both directions? The bigness and littleness of life continue to fascinate and frighten by their immensity.
And if we cannot really grasp the concept of size and distance, neither can we understand spiritual realities. Who is God? What is life about? We catch glimpses and acknowledge moments when we admit “There must be more than this…” but mostly we are fumbling in the dark, hoping to locate a light switch at some point.
So what is “the immensity of this glorious way of life”?
There’s two helpful hints in the passage.
First, it’s a relationship. “I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally…”
How do I get into this relationship? Isn’t it a bit silly to talk about “knowing God personally”? Slugs and eagles, remember.
The massive claim of Christianity is that the spiritual has become physical; that size and distance have been re-imagined; indeed, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”
That’s why Paul brings Jesus into this question of relationship. He is the one who makes it possible. “Do you want to know what God is like? Then look at Jesus. If you want to know how God reacts to people, look at how Jesus reacted to people. If you want to know what God thinks, how he acts and who he is, don’t get with a group of people and vote on it. One doesn’t discover divine truth with an election. If you want to know the truth about God, don’t get a book on theology, listen to a preacher, or even read a book like this one. For God’s sake, go to Jesus.”
― Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom
Second, it’s a responsibility. We are brought into a relationship so “that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
We’re being invited into the answer of what life is about. It’s like that Matrix moment when Neo takes the pill. There’s a whole new reality to be explored. You remember that bit?
The mysterious outsider Morpheus offers Neo a choice: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”
The blue pill would allow Neo to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix, therefore living the “ignorance of illusion”, while the red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the real world, therefore living the “truth of reality” even though it is a harsher, more difficult life.
And this is what Jesus offers. After all, He described Himself as “the truth” (in John 14:6) and invites us to know Him and the hope that he represents…
“that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
It’s a responsibility to know the truth. Not everyone gets it. People may misunderstand you or even give you a hard time about it.
The “hope” to which you are called is not merely the hope of heaven but the present reality of “eternal life,” starting the moment you turn in faith to Jesus.
And you take on the responsibility of legacy, “the riches of his glorious inheritance.” As an heir, you walk tall with rights and privileges. Not cocky, but seriously aware of just how important your position is. You have been entrusted with the truth of life itself. Don’t fritter it away in some piece of foolishness.
“And so I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers.”
It’s big, this new way of living. Every word that you speak has the power to bless, if you’re speaking grace. Every smile has the power to transform. Every touch has the power to heal.
Today, choose it. Don’t block your ears. God has called you into relationship through Jesus. Live it out in every moment of today.