Monday, October 18, 2010

Loyal Luke

St. Luke by Frans Hals c. 1625
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Timothy 4:9-22

TO CHEW ON: "Only Luke is with me..." 2 Timothy 4:11a

The first part of our reading today gives us a rare glimpse into Paul's personal situation. It's rather sad. Demas has checked out ("forsaken me, having loved this present world"), Cresens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia, Tychicus to Ephesus. He doesn't even have his books and favourite cloak. But he does have Luke.

This articulate physician accompanied Paul on many of his travels and had stuck with him through the high points and low. At the time of writing this letter, Paul was imprisoned in Rome and at a particularly low point. This imprisonment wasn't like a previous one, when he was in his own hired dwelling and could receive visitors easily. Now he was in a dungeon, where it was hard to find him. Before he looked forward to release. Now he looked forward to death. This letter contains his last recorded words. The friends who surrounded him had dwindled to one.

But the friend he had was a quality person. In addition to being a medical doctor, Luke was an investigative journalist (who wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts).

He showed himself an astute theologian who emphasized the universality of the Christian message while showing Jesus' Jewish roots. He included stories of Jesus as the Saviour of all kinds of people, some of whom the other gospels leave out — like Zaccheus the tax collector and the thief on the cross.*

And he was a loyal friend. His sticking with Paul shows that.

In our time, loyalty isn't something that gets held up as a quality worth striving after. We'll be loyal to a brand as long as it serves us. But when something better comes along, we'll switch. That utilitarian attitude readily infects our relationships with people too.

But Luke wasn't like that. Though the days of basking in the reflected glory of being Paul's assistant and companion were over, though we might expect such a versatile and talented man to find more profitable, satisfying, even safe things to do, he chose to stick with his aging, unpopular and imprisoned friend.

Let's let his loyalty challenge us to be that kind of friend. The kind that demonstrates Agape love: "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." The kind that Proverbs says "sticks closer than a brother."

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for men like Luke who in their quiet loyalty demonstrated the quality of Your love for us. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Luke

Today is the day the church celebrates the Feast of St. Luke Evangelist. The liturgy for this day begins with this collect:

"Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

*General information about Luke and his writings from the introduction to the Gospel of Luke, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, pp. 1381-1383.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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