Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meditation on Ephesians 1

How’s your vision? The book of Ephesians has a lot to say about vision and Christian living.
Up close and far away. Up close we see details but miss the bigger reality. As the old saying goes, we can’t see the whole forest for the individual trees.
As we grow as Christians, our individual vision should change.
Our lesson is the second half of Eph. 1. Last week Paul we saw that Paul starts his letter off saying “let’s get this into perspective. This is what has happened to you spiritually since and because you trusted Christ as savior. You are forgiven, redeemed, excepted in the Beloved (I take that to mean that the most beloved persons to God are the other persons of the trinity, and God sees us the way he sees Jesus). We are seated in the heavenlies (also discussed in Colossians).
In verses 15 he says,
A. I thank God for you. Are we truly thankful for people? Not just for what they give us, not for how they make us feel, not for the memories we have with them, not for what they do for us. Just for their existence. Do we ever think of people as dispensable? I have, I am ashamed to say. Paul is thankful for two things about them: they love Jesus and are faithful to him. The Ephesians are not the Corinthians!
B. He prays for them. A lot of things he could pray for, but he doesn’t, not at least in this context. He prays for them
1. That they receive, from God alone, the or a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”
a. What does this mean? It’s pretty deep. Core seems to be that they know God more; not that they know more about God, but that they know God in their experience and understanding more.
b. That this will only come from God, by revelation. The Bible seems to make a distinction here between hearing (receiving a verbal message and obeying it, therefore choice) and vision (understanding what is revealed, therefore dependent on God).
c. We should pray for others to have the eyes of their understanding enlightened, as well as that for ourselves, but don’t confuse it with “agreeing with me.”
2. If they are to have eyes enlightened, to receive understanding, what about: 3 things, which I think would truly shake us up if we understood them and held on to them.
a. Hope of his calling
b. Riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (not that the saints will get, but his inheritance in the saints, what we are in Him)
c. Mighty power. This mighty power has four proofs behind it:
(1) God raised Jesus from dead after three days (not a near death experience)
(2) Jesus is ascended to heaven and exalted over earthly and Satanic powers.
(3) Not only is he over them but he has defeated them; they are his footstool Ps. 2. Think about that image. Ps. 8, Phil 2, Rev. 19; Colossians 1:16-17.
(4) He is the leader, head of the church. Paul treats these as four historical facts that prove how powerful God is, the power that he wants us to understand.
But even if Paul treats them as four historical facts, they are not historical facts you are going to find in history books. The world as it is does not “see” Jesus as Lord. We say it, and we say we believe, but it does not command our vision, our world view, of our circumstances and what happens around us. Paul is praying that it should, that it must. It is reality but what we see around us is only part of the story, like the close-up pictures I showed you at the beginning.
So turn your head, adjust your vision, get a spiritual eye examination, because we are not seeing everything as we should. We do not see evidence that Jesus is Lord because we see evil around us, so much of us. We do not see the good that happens every day, every second. I don’t see you as a person because I want something out of you. I don’t see what I have because of what I want. I don’t see what I retain because of what I might have lost or might lose in the future. I don’t see what is because I can imagine so much, good and bad.
Mankind never stops wanting. There’s a good aspect to that, of course; we keep digging and discovering, we learn about the world. And we pray in the Our Father that we be delivered from evil (or the evil one, it should be translated)—that is a desire God honors. But the continual wanting that makes us not look around us at what is really there, what is spiritually true, is not always health to our spirits.

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Attention, Ego, Spirituality, and Drugs

This title may seem really odd coming from me, but this article has some interesting things to say.