An Encouragement for those who love God

Alice with her Pa, reading a book together. I think this is what loving God is supposed to look like!


 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
(Luke 1:1–4 NRSV)


The gospel narrative begins with an explanation of purpose. Many have tried to put in writing the story of Jesus but in some ways, their work has fallen short. It’s the name Theophilus that grabs our attention. His name means “one who loves God” — with a type of friendship love. It’s deeply personal and reflects an on-going relationship between an individual and God. This gospel then, is an invitation to all who love God to sit and listen. You are to be encouraged as being both excellent and very strong, for those who love God, who are true disciples are people who are on a journey, one which is not easy. This doctrine of Jesus Christ is reaffirmed for the one who loves God, as truth and instruction. 


I have to confess that I am deeply troubled by previously high-profile “Christians” who seem to be walking away, entirely, from their faith: this includes best-selling authors and those who have graced large and popular pulpits around the world. What has happened to them? Where did things go wrong? 

Over and over again in Paul’s epistles we read of his discouragement about those who have left the faith. He had his own high-profile disciples who turned their backs and walked away. They became caught up in the popularity of a movement and enjoyed the attention they received when the crowds came to hear them speak, but I believe they all lacked the same thing that these high-profile people have lacked today — they didn’t love God. They liked the church, they liked Christianity (as long as it was popular and didn’t ask anything of them), they were busy serving and doing, but they had never really become a “friend of God.”

This one who loves God and is a friend of God doesn’t seem to purport to have it all together, or Luke may not have thought that he needed to write this account. Maybe the voices of the world were crushing in upon him and Theophilus had some doubts. Luke is writing to the one who has learned to love God; to walk daily with the Lord and enjoy a friendship that is beyond explanation. 

Foundational to any work or ministry, is the deep need to love God. Without this love and relationship, everything else fails. This is why Luke spoke of Theophilus’ excellence and strength. We don’t know anything else about Theophilus, whether he wrote any books or was popular on the speaking cycle but what we do know is the most important fact about him — he loved God. 

For generation after generation Christianity has lived in danger of being swallowed up by the culture. Christianity is not to be defined as a cultural expression. Christianity is to be an invitation into a deeply personal relationship with a loving God. Jesus came to make that reality possible and when we preach or teach any other gospel, we are being disloyal to the one who paid the price to make all of this possible. That’s what Luke was attempting to affirm in his gospel. Therefore, it becomes an encouragement to those who genuinely love, and have become a friend of God. 


Lord, I‘m afraid I fail you often, but may my love for you continue to increase. Amen. 


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