November 23, 1008
Christ the King (A)
When we hear the word enlightenment it conjures up all kinds of images-everything from a meditating, levitating contemplative to a pointy-eared, short, green sage offering young Skywalker wisdom in a formal, un-contracted and awkward grammar to a period in history characterized by reason as the primary source of authority and an optimistic view of human ability.
So what is enlightenment exactly? Is it finally being able to answer the big questions of life? Is it some kind of indefinable ethereal awakening that transforms a person in a moment?
Enlightenment carries with it a myriad of connotations, but maybe it’s just one of those terms that defies definition. Even Merriam-Webster ends up casting it into ambiguity by defining it as “the act or means of enlightening: the state of being enlightened.” Thanks … that’s helpful.
And yet, it seems like the idea of enlightenment appeals to us-like we’d be better off if we experienced it, like we’d receive some kind of revelation that would forever change us.
In our text the apostle Paul actually prays that his readers would experience enlightenment-specifically, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. So while we might not expect to meditate ourselves into a blissful state, there’s something to this enlightenment thing for Christians.
Fortunately for us, Paul goes on to describe exactly what he means by enlightenment. In the context of his prayer, he describes enlightenment as seeing the glory of God’s plan. It’s an awakening to God’s redemptive work in the community of faith. That plan gets more specific when the apostle asks that the lights turn on in their hearts so they can see: 1) the hope of God’s calling, 2) the riches of God’s inheritance, and 3) the surpassing greatness of God’s power.
I. Seeing the Hope of God’s Calling
First, true enlightenment is seeing the glory of God’s plan through His calling of us. Paul’s language here reaches back to
The apostle prays that believers would hope in that calling. This isn’t hope like we normally think of hope-not like “I hope I win the lottery.” This is hope in something sure, something secure, a finished work because God has determined it. True enlightenment is living in light of this hope.
II. Seeing the Riches of God’s Inheritance
Second, true enlightenment is seeing the glory of God’s plan through the riches of His inheritance. While Paul’s previous point emphasized our security, this one emphasizes our value (see
We’re God’s inheritance, His investment, His wealth! What an amazing truth to live in light of. Have you thought about your value to God recently?
III. Seeing the Surpassing Greatness of God’s Power
Finally, true enlightenment is seeing the glory of God’s plan through the surpassing greatness of His power. Paul shows us that in God’s plan of redemption we have security and value, and now he shows us that we possess power. God grants us power that brings us to life in Christ and enables us to live like Christ.
The apostle places a great deal of emphasis on this truth. He uses adjectives for emphasis-“surpassing greatness” (
The world will continue to give us definitions and descriptions of enlightenment. But the Scriptures teach us that true enlightenment is seeing the glory of God’s plan through the security of God’s calling, the value of God’s inheritance, and the enablement of God’s power.