Monday, September 19, 2011

Luke The Evangelists

Ask the average Christian to name THE evangelist, and they will most likely say Billy Graham. According to denomination, historical knowledge, cultural setting, or theological persuasion, they might say Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, C.H. Spurgeon, or D.L. Moody. But…ask any seminary student the name of the Evangelists and you’ll surely get Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as your answer. The original Evangelists, usually with a capital E, are the four Gospel writers. The word Evangel is old English for the Gospel of Christianity, hence the Evangelists are those who wrote that Gospel.

With the case of Luke, the book and name hold special affections for me. First of all, Luke’s telling of the Lord’s story is the first of my memories of the Christian faith. It would be most of ours if we were to think hard on it. My earliest memories are of my sisters teaching me to sing Away In A Manger. Naturally, that whole song is a culmination of the story in Luke 2. Secondly, it was the first Gospel I read in its entirety, as a twelve year old boy. This was not long after I saw Star Wars’ second installment, The Empire Strikes Back, and I thought, “Hey. Luke is in the Bible. Luke is in Star Wars.” The profundity of that thought does not escape me. Thus started my love affair with Luke.

The third reason would be the fact that my son is named Luke. (Hmm. Wonder why?) To me, the name Luke represents the personification of manhood, machismo and the essence of coolness. My Luke was named, by-the-way, more in reference to Cool Hand Luke, than the Luke of the Bible or Luke Skywalker. (Although there was certainly a strong influence from the Evangel and the Jedi.)

My son Luke was the most amazing kid, and is now the most amazing young man. Coming from the bias of all parents, he is the world’s greatest teenager. He is funny, witty, charming, a bit of a Casanova-ladies-man, and, naturally, one of the “popular kids” in High School.

But I believe it was an act of Divine providence that he shares the name of one of the Evangelist. Luke’s heart is that of an evangelist, and his spiritual giftedness is leading people to the Lord. Time after time, from a three year old to a high school freshman, he has come to his dad and told me about his “friend” at school that he has invited to church (most everyone he meets is a friend, hence the quotation marks. He, like Will Rogers, never met a stranger.) Said friend needs a ride, or his/her parents won’t let them come, or lo and behold, there they are on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning looking for their “friend” Luke who invited them. Sometimes they come looking for a meal, others for game time (an AWANA thing,) or occasionally just looking for something to do. But they all come looking for what people need most…someone to care enough to reach out, to be a friend, to say with the simplest of invitations, “I care about you. You are important to me”

As I write this, my eyes misting up with a sanctified pride, I can’t help but wonder…Church; if we were more Lukish, more Markish, more Matthewish, more Johnish, how many more people would come to church and feel like they are important to God, because they were important to His people? I can assure you, there wouldn’t be enough room to hold them.

Well, food for thought I guess.

And to my Boy I say: “Keep ‘em coming, son. There is room at the cross for them all!”

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