May 13, 2022:
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)
“This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to know the truth.” (1 Timothy 2. 4)
As Luke enters his proposal to Theophilus providing counsel to affirm and uphold the testimony he had heard as truth, Theophilus is invited to see that it is far more than just “say so.” The Word of God is not just a spoken and somehow dismissed then as hearsay. It is a lifestyle lived out in faith by faith for the sake of others. Luke’s work becomes a historical compilation of what happens when the “spoken word” becomes the “living word.” John wrote his gospel (and related writings) because a similar witness to the churches in Asia Minor. He began “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and indeed was God. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” This did not mean that “Jesus” did not have a form of existence before taking on flesh and bearing the image in human form. It was the same image in which all humans were originally created. The Word spoke and the Word created. Now the Word speaks and the Word recreates. The Word lives and gives life. For Luke, there was no philosophical theological treatise to present. Instead, Luke displayed the life that was lived in response to the “living” Word. The evidence was a community of faith in Jesus as the Christ that expanded and ministered to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, by the time Luke was presenting his treatise to Theophilus. For us today, mighty ones of God, that “living Word” still lives and works and exists recreating life into its original image.
Jesus is the image of creation. Peter confessed to Jesus (John 6), “To whom [else] shall we go? You alone have the answers we need- the words for eternal life.” Throughout the gospels, there is a dominating question. It must have been the question that was the impetus of evangelism as the Church grew in its witness to all the world. The question was, and remains to this day, “What must I do to have eternal life?” Strange, is it not, that we rarely hear that question today? The focus on Christ and Christianity seems to be more on “What have you done for me lately?” Or better proposed, “What will you do for me now?” There is so much emphasis on “works” that righteousness gets lost in the busyness of our religion, the religion of relationship. For all its worth, the evangelical movement which appears to spearhead the movement of “religion is bad, relationship is good” demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding for “religion.” Without rehashing definitions, let’s say it simply. Religion is the life that is lived out in response to one’s understanding of relating to a higher authority which includes even one’s self as that authority. In other words, we all have religion. The most dangerous religion of all is the religion of self. Paul addressed this similar thought when he wrote a reminder to the faith community in Corinth saying “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” Even the deceptive proposal of the Eden Serpent included “you can be like God.” What is the most fundamental elements of God’s existence but “love” and “eternity”? I will not entertain a debate on this but it could fall into the category of “Which came first- love or eternity?” I think you get what I am saying. So, in the busyness of the modern Church’s religion, where is the question of eternity? Are we ignoring the Energizer Bunny in the room beating out the tune of “On and on and on?” Long after the Energizer has de-energized, the love of God goes on and on and on. But, the truth is most every question asked of Jesus bears down to the seeking of one answer- how do we live forever?
Wait, you say. What about healings? What about feedings? What about walking on water? What about….fill in the blank with the multitude of requests made of Jesus? Fundamentally and foundationally, each question is rooted in the spoken or unspoken desire to prolonging life. I have no doubt, though it is never spoken or revealed, that Theophilus wanted to know the answer to this question himself. Even those who wish to disprove the validity and veracity of Christianity, and thus render it lifeless or useless, have to dispel the teaching of eternal life. Luke leaves the answering to practical matters. All images relate to an abundant and eternal life and lifestyle. It is all about the righteousness of God and reconciling humanity with divinity. The purpose of such ministry is to restore the people of God to a life that is not bound to this world on earth. Even Jesus declaration to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” is a bold statement which the Church of the first century holds to. How else could they face the trials and tribulations they did? Their citizenship was not Jew, Gentile, Roman or Greek or any other kingdom or nationality or creed or affiliation or religion of this world but of the Kingdom of God with Jesus the Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
So, mighty ones of God, let’s be like Luke and the other disciples, and become familiar with the answer to this potent question in our good news broadcast: eternal life.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Our Father, God of Heaven and earth, You who has known us before we were conceived in our mother’s womb and who has known us since through all that our life has been and become, pour out Your Holy Spirit on us. Let the knowledge of the truth for our lives which has been made evident in Jesus as the Christ lead, guide and direct our steps as we not only move toward the fullness of eternal life for ourselves but as we lead, guide and direct others toward the acceptance of the promise for the same which has been made available to them. We know this is Your desire and Your purpose for our lives. We give ourselves to it in the name of Jesus by which we press into life today. AMEN.