A few moments before writing this article I glanced at Ephesians 1:18. The scripture gripped my heart, and I was unable to detach my thoughts from the profound and mysterious meanings that the Apostle Paul herein introduces. “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power (Ephesians 1:18-19)
“The eyes of your understanding” – Many commentators would explain this phrase as Paul referring to “the eyes of your heart” or “the eyes of your inner convictions.” However you look at it, Paul is trying to address the primary issue of the saints’ walk with God. It is the ever-pressing challenge and still represents the core factor of the church’s effectiveness. Paul prays for an enlightened understanding, by which the Christian “may know what is the hope of his calling.” Once this understanding comes, the soul becomes willing to embrace all that is of Christ at the expense of all that is in the world. Enlightened eyes of understanding are eyes that can see clearly, they are eyes that know and are convinced. Eyes of understanding see into the heavenly places; they see the end and see Jesus above all principalities and powers (Ephesians 1:18-23).
Think about how Peter expressed it, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11). He saw the “Day of the Lord.” It was not a hope connected to this world but a hope in Christ alone. “Look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).
There is in this day, I suspect, a dimming of our spiritual eyesight. The Apostle Peter’s words, especially in chapter three of his second epistle, addressed the matter of the church losing its sight or understanding. We all, if we are honest, would have to admit that we see similar indications of the loss of spiritual discernment and lack of understanding in our churches today.
We are at an intersection of faith and culture, and this is no small matter.
Look at the Pentecostal/charismatic revival sweeping the continent of Africa. It is presently one of the most noted religious phenomena in the world. The documentation has been primarily non-Apostolic and the results are disturbing, to say the least. According to researcher Martin Lindhardt, editor of “Pentecostalism in Africa” (Brill, 2014), the shift away from the basic tenants of Biblical doctrine is notable. He writes, “In contemporary Pentecostalism therefore, the Scriptures are applied in ways that encourage members to invest in financial markets, seize opportunities in education, business, politics and entertainment and whatsoever able, increase their spheres of influence in the world.” These ideas are often in the context of dominion theology.
We haven’t yet seen much of this in America’s Apostolic Pentecostal churches. But nevertheless, there is, in my view, a growing carelessness in the way we deal with the world and its influences. It’s also clear we are weakening our traditional stance against worldly entertainment and, shall we say, worldliness in general. But what is more troubling is the growing cavalier attitude toward immorality, at times coupled with a kind of protectionism – an unwillingness to address the problem. Sin is no longer called sin, the definitions are muddled, unrighteousness is left unaddressed, unchallenged until at some point the apathy turns into defense of the very thing we were to war against. I pray that we will not turn a blind eye to sin. I pray that we will not allow ourselves to become comfortable with the world, afraid to confront unrighteousness, ungodly lifestyles. I pray we will have the courage to stand against homosexuality, pornography and sexual sin.
Jesus commanded that we “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If a man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). This bold proclamation must mean something. We must be willing to pray for our understanding to be awakened. We must turn our eyes toward heaven. For as the Apostle Paul points out, if the eyes of our understanding are clear concerning an eternal destination, an eternal home where Jesus reigns, then we will live while in this present world “in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). Our prayer must be that we may see the eternal, and therefore may understand the battleground of the temporal. Make no mistake; it is a choice that every individual, every church and every organization must make, and it will not be an easy road — the “way of the Lord” will always be in contention with the world. When the eyes of the heart, the eyes of godliness and truth set the agenda for our very being and set the course for our organization and our churches, we are then on the road of hope. No wonder the songwriter was inspired to say, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, open the eyes of my heart.”