Friday, December 31 2021
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a)
It is my prayer that you will have the “eyes of your heart enlightened.” Paul begins with a compliment to the Ephesians because he has heard of their faith. He assures them that God is working through them and has immeasurable greatness of his power. In the third chapter of Ephesians Paul said, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” This spirit of revelation and wisdom is the knowledge that God loves us and gave us God’s only Son that we might have abundant life in this world and eternal life in the next.
Love is a key factor in the world. Even though we all know the importance of love in the world, we often get distracted by all that is going on in our lives. At Christmas, we experience the eternal love of God in a crude manger in Bethlehem. Kings travel from the East to pay homage to Jesus Christ. God calls us to fill our hearts with this love and share it with others.
Our first act of love should be thanksgiving to God in heaven for the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to enlighten the eyes of our hearts. Our next act of love should be to those around us. When loving God and loving our neighbor are combined, our brain stops playing the fear and anxiety video that leads our reptilian brain to increased heart rate and stress. We play the hope video that leads our brain to a healthier pattern of rational, moral behavior. This in turn sends the signal to our reptilian brain to produce endorphins, lower our heart rate, and reduce our stress. Most of us are aware of that when we listen to music that triggers happy memories. When we laugh, exercise, have sex, or eat certain foods, our brain triggers the release of endorphins and other chemicals which gives us that sense of being in a euphoric state. Likewise bad experiences and traumas trigger feelings of pain, fear, and anxiety. Since we all experience these triggers to different degrees, we need to love one another in the knowledge that we have all been damaged by the actions of others and are all in need of love and comfort. We especially need to care for those who are most vulnerable and least likely to be loved and comforted.
Christianity leads us down a rational, moral path that helps us to feel good about ourselves and triggers that feeling of contentment and satisfaction in our lives. Instead of selfish, egotistical, controlling and sometimes hurtful behavior, we follow Jesus Christ in self-giving, humble, loving behavior. This leads our brain to a healthy pattern of releasing chemicals that give us a sense of wellbeing. A healthy diet, lots of clean drinking water, loving relationships, exercise, and good sleep contribute to a happy and heathy life.
In Christ’s love,