Could You Write An Account?
Luke 1:1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
Luke works very hard to give us an intention Gospel account. This introduction is written in beautiful literary Greek utilizing the same format that would be found in the writings of historians and educated writers of Luke’s era. Christianity was bursting onto the scene, not just as the religion of a small sect of uneducated individuals from Galilee, but onto the world stage. It was time for a carefully crafted account that could help spread the good news about Jesus Christ.
This is not just a simple, nor unbiased view of the Gospel. Ambrose tells us that this is a confessional and persuasive writing that is “filled with Christological meaning.” The desire is for people to understand more about Jesus Christ and his role as the Messiah. There had been others who had tried to write an account but were unable. Luke took the time to research and to carefully investigate the stories which he had been told. His work provides a template for us but also a caution, for you cannot rush into writing an account without the gracious presence of the Holy Spirit.
The account is written for Theopilus, and this represents a particular audience. This name can be translated lover of God, or the one whom God loves. Ambrose says, “If you love God, it was written to you.” Therefore this message is not just for an individual or group of individuals living in Luke’s time, but it’s written for you and for me, if we are lovers of God.
Living in God’s love we experience the gracious presence of the Holy Spirit in and among us and our lives become living Gospels of Jesus Christ. This is the account which we are to be writing.
Today is the first day of the new year and for some we would like to begin with a blank slate. We would like to begin writing a new account, beginning from this very day. At the same time, we may be challenged to write our account. However, there can only be an account, if there is something that has been experienced. If we were to take a blank piece of paper today and begin to write our own account of our experience with Jesus Christ — what would it look like? I think there are some serious questions which we need to ask ourselves.
1) Am I a Theolphilus? We are all challenged to be in a deeply loving relationship with our Creator. God is love and this love is overwhelming. We become consumed as both those who love and those who experience love. It is a two-way street and this name helps us to see the importance and value to being in that loving relationship when it comes to grasping an understanding of the Gospel. Jesus was the good news and a new era had been ushered in with his life and presence and in the world.
2) Have I sufficiently experienced the moving of God’s Holy Spirit in my life that I could write a testimony? The old watch night services were places where people took the time to reflect upon God’s working in their lives during the past year. They praised God for what he had done and how he had led them. What would I have to say?
3) Am I willing to take the time to do the job well? Luke didn’t write a half-hearted testimony about Jesus as some others had done. He took the time to do it right. He did the research and checked on his data so that what has now survived for nearly 2000 years would be as accurate as he knew. This mattered for Christianity! In this “instantaneous” era we are tempted to do things too quickly and get it out there without checking all the facts. People are leaving the Church in droves because they are tired of the “instant” junk that they’ve been given over the last number of years. We have taken too many short-cuts and we have tried to write an account without putting the time and effort into it that is required. It won’t last! The other “gospels” didn’t last either — but this one did!
I want to be able to write an account — I want my life to be a living gospel. As I move into this new year of 2015, I pray that I will fall deeper in love with my Lord and that the Holy Spirit will open my eyes to God’s activity in and among us. May my words and my actions point in the direction of Jesus! And may the things that I do be done for the long run — to last for this generation and the ones to come.
Lord, please hear my heart and my prayer for 2015. Amen.