“… having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,…” St. Paul writes this in the first chapter in his letter to the Ephesians. What does it mean to have the eyes of your hearts enlightened?
Most Christians don’t talk about enlightenment. That sort of language is mainly used in Eastern religions, but let us not forget that Christianity originated in the East. It was a concern of the of the early Christians, and many would still write about it until it seems right before the Reformation, when Christianity split and became much more about theology, belief and belonging systems, and our group verses your group.
Many Christians see their faith more as a future escape plan, and the Bible as “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” They put all hope in a Heaven that they will experience only after death. But that is not what the Bible is all about. In St. Peter’s Second Letter he says,” he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” Not in some future heaven, but here on earth, now in this life. Christian enlightenment is nothing less than a participation in Heaven while still here on earth.
To have it now, the eye of your heart must be enlightened. Jesus teaches in the Gospel of St. Luke that, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” He is speaking here not of your bodily eye, but of the metaphorical eye of your heart. He is saying how you see is what you see. We must clean the lens of our perceptions. If you don’t do this you will not see things as they are, you will see things as you are.
We as Christians use all these Biblical sayings that have very deep and profound meanings such as being born again, becoming a new creature, a new man, putting on Christ, and even being saved, but have we actually thought about what they mean, or do we just use them to identify ourselves as Christians? These sayings call for nothing short of real transformation. We, like Christ, must be transfigured into someone more spiritual. This means much more than belonging to a church and not being a “sinner” anymore.
Jesus is calling you. He wants you to be a participant with Him in His divine nature. In short He is calling you to union. You must become one with Him. Read the Last Supper Discourses in the Gospel of St. John and tell me otherwise. It seems that St. John is almost drunk with the concept of unity. It is my favorite part of the Bible. I love to read it aloud to people.
How do we achieve this unity? That’s the best part. We don’t have to. He has already given it to us. All we have to do is realize it. We have to clean our lens, and open the eyes of our hearts! This process is called contemplation. Prayer. Close your eyes, and in silence open your inner eye. It is such a simple process. Not easy, no never easy, but simple. Check out my series on prayer if you have questions on meditation or contemplation.
“Everything exposed to the light itself becomes light,” says Ephesians 5:14. In contemplation we expose ourselves to the light. As we prayerfully return to this divine light, we will become its reflection, almost despite ourselves. This is what Christians mean by enlightenment.