The other night in a conversation with a friend, I asked again, ‘As a worker, why didn’t I understand more than I did about salvation, the blood of Christ, grace, who Christ was/is?’ And, why didn’t other workers understand more? Why did we shut so many truths out? Why were we limited in our understanding?
I look back at that time in my life and feel like I was among those Paul was writing about when he described the Jews who were still under the Old Testament Law. He writes: “their minds being blinded in part” and “it is only in Christ is it taken away” and “whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Cor 3:14, 16.
I am not a Jew but my mind was seemingly blinded in part even though I was in Christ because I had never been taught there was something more than what I had known all my life. However, I yearned for more and God heard that cry and thus began the process towards greater understanding.
I think many more friends and workers have those same questions at times and yearn for the same things but they shut it down because this is what they have been taught to do. To have questions and yearnings means there is something wrong with them, because the “Way” (i.e. the system) is perfect, so it can’t possibly be something wrong with the system itself. It has to be their problem instead and it is dangerous to ask those kinds of questions.
I don’t know if any of the older workers in my time knew and understood more than what they were allowed to preach. I don’t know if some of the younger workers today know and understand more than what they dare preach. I pray that they will find the courage and grace to do so and not fear what might happen to them or their ‘place’.
What I do know is that when I read books like Ephesians really slowly…sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, word by word, there are some very amazing, powerful and beautiful truths there that I want to have in my heart, mind and life. I want to know God and to know Christ like Paul did. I could easily spend a week or longer just meditating on one of those sections digging out the truths and depths found there. It’s that good. And, for some reason, these are truths that never rang true for me when I was still in the meetings. In fact, so many of these verses, chapters and especially books such as Galatians and Romans simply did not make much sense at all.
One of those phrases that has been real to me the last couple of days again is Ephesians 1:18
“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”
Who doesn’t want to be enlightened about the things of God? To have the lights come on, so to speak, about the deep things of God. To have an aha moment. Those, “wow-I-never-thought-of-it-like-that-before” moment. Those, “this-is-holy-ground” moments. This is a profound moment. This is a “I-will-never-be-the-same-moment.” A “fall on your knees-in-worship moment.”
This was something Paul prayed for and is something very real and rich we can all pray for as well, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey. But, if we are already convinced we know all there is to know or if we are afraid to pray that for fear of where it might lead us, we need to see both of those attitudes as red flags that something is way off kilter.
The word enlighten is used in many areas of life. There are moments of intellectual enlightenment and emotional enlightenment, but what Paul was praying for is spiritual enlightenment because of how he finishes that sentence. He writes, “in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Emphasis mine)
To be enlightened about the hope I have, how rich I truly am, and how much power I have access to. That is huge stuff. I need a whole lot of enlightenment in those 3 areas because if I do, I know that many things in life will fall into place and make a lot more sense.
If I understand the degree of hope I can have and cling to that which is eternal rather than placing so many of my hopes in temporal things, then my hope will not be deferred time and time again making my heart sick. Oh, Father, give me understanding and enlightenment about the kind of hope I should/could have!
If I understand how rich I really am, then I won’t waste as much time comparing myself to what others have versus what I don’t have and want. I won’t get as stressed about money as I am right now. I will instead, do everything I can to be faithful in earning and spending money and let go of the incredible anxiety about it.
If I understand how much power from God is at my disposal to be used for victory in my life, for getting free from anything that is keeping me back from being truly free in Christ, than I wouldn’t be a slave to anything or anyone. I would never be in a pit of despair again or have a black cloud of dismay over my head because I believe instead that God has given me the power to rise above those things.
I am feeling moved to spend a lot more time in Ephesians, so likely there will be several posts from that book. My prayer is that others will also read that book very slowly and prayerfully because I believe lives will change when that happens.
We have reason to fear some of the ‘enlightenment’ the world promises but we never ever have to fear the enlightenment that comes from God Himself. He is sharing with us His very essence, the secret things that have been from the beginning. And of course, no matter how much He shares with us in this life, we will still only have scratched the surface of all there is to know!