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On a Need to Know Basis

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On a Need to Know Basis

Ephesians 1:15-23

The first thing that my son told me after the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States was that now Barack Obama was reading the book of secrets. He was referring to the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” with Nicolas Cage produced in 2007. The movie is about the existence of a book that contains all the secrets of the United States that is passed from president to president. This movie was the sequel of the movie: National Treasure made in 2004 which line story is about the existence of a treasure that was guarded by a secret society. It is interesting that in 2006 the movie the Davinci Code was released; this movie tells us about a secret society that is protecting not a treasure, not a book, but a religious secret. Just this week the special edition of the U.S. News and World Report came out with the title: “Secrets of the Bible, we are fascinated with secrets.”

Most of us have heard about files from the FBI, the CIA and other secret driven agencies that are labeled “On a need to know basis.” In those cases the persons know only the parts that they need in order to do their jobs or fulfill their mission. There is something captivating about the notion of secrets that no one knows except a few chosen ones. The idea of knowing something that no one else knows gives us a sense of importance. It tells the world that we are special and they do not even get to know why.

The apostle Paul shares with the Ephesians how ever since he heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints, he has not stopped giving thanks for them and remembering them in his prayers. Paul tells this church that he keeps asking God that: “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” What does this mean? How and what do you see with your heart?  What is the difference between seeing with your eyes and seeing with the eyes of your heart?

To see with your heart is to see what others are not able to see. When many saw Jesus they saw a defeated wannabe king, while others saw the son of God. To see with the eyes of your heart is to have the ability to look beyond the obvious to the essence of people and things.  To see with your heart is to see the way God looks at you and me; it is the gift to see God’s actions in the world regardless of what our human eyes see. Some have this gift while others do not even though it is a gift meant for every daughter and son of God.  The apostle Paul was praying continuously that the Ephesians could have the eyes of their heart opened; “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.”

The first outcome of Paul prayer is that once their eyes are enlightened the Ephesians may know the hope to which God has called them. The dictionary tells us that to hope is to cherish a desire with anticipation, to expect with confidence. In 2006 president elect Barack Obama wrote the book entitled: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” In this book Barack Obama recalls a press conference that he decided to hold the day before he officially became a senator from Illinois. He says: “At the time, I was ranked ninety-ninth in seniority, I had not taken a single vote, had not introduced a single bill---indeed I had not even sat down at my desk when a very earnest reporter raised his hand and asked, “Senator Obama, what is your place in history?” he recalls how some of the other reporters laugh. (pg 354) Why this reporter did asked this question at that time in his political career? How can someone like Obama, unknown, with not much experience move from a law office, to the senate, to the highest office in the land in three years? The title of his book give us a hint, is about the power of hope.

We need hope to survive; hope feeds our spirit and create the future. People voted for Obama based mostly in the hope for a better future. He was able to inspire the imagination of our nation about how the future could be. Many who voted for him are not Christians, are not even religious, but they feel the need for hope. Barack Obama ran, not based on his past record, but on his hope for the future. He lifted hope not only in this country, but around the world. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us of God’s intention towards the church, towards God’s people: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (29:11)

The biggest example of someone who was able to hope without any physical reason to was Abraham. Paul uses him as an example in his letter to the Romans. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (4:18) what do you hope for our church? What do you see in our future? The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (11:1)

The second outcome of having the eyes of your heart opened is that you will know “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” There are two possible ways to understand this statement. According to the first, the saints, that means you and I are God’s inheritance. God looks on us as a treasure of incomparable worth.  Peter uses this meaning in his first letter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (2:9) It is certainly an exhibition of unspeakable grace that unworthy sinners, saved through Christ, could ever occupy such a place in the heart of God that God would speak of them as God’s own inheritance.

The other view is that the inheritance means all that we will inherit. It means the whole universe put under the reign of Christ, and we, God’s children, reigning with Christ over it. Paul argues in Romans about the certainty of our inheritance. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (8:32) Paul even considers the Holy Spirit’s presence in the believers lives as God’s guarantee seal.  “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The third outcome of having the eyes of your heart enlightened is to know “his incomparably great power for us who believe.” This power, according to Paul we have already witnesses in God’s resurrection of Jesus.  “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

You have to have a strong faith to continue to believe in a loving God as we see the amount of suffering around us: the war on Iraq, people losing their jobs and many others losing their homes and even their health insurance. We need to be as honest as the man who wanted Jesus to heal his son. He said to Jesus: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” To which Jesus responded saying: “‘if you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24) You need to have a very strong faith, unless you have the eyes of your heart wide open.

“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 the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

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