Friday, February 26, 2016

From the Dead: What's Your Story?

                                       
Despite the fact that Christians are supposed to share their faith all the time, I've really only shared my faith a handful of times with people. It all began when I was 12 years old. I shared the gospel with a shy and quiet girl at my junior high. At that time, I was super young in faith, and I doubt I shared a ton of the actual gospel message...I shared something else.

Later in life, as I became an adult, I became better at sharing "the good news." By this I mean that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh (John 1:1-14), a sinless and perfect man who died a criminal's death in the place of all the actual criminals in the world. He was dead for three days, and then under His own power (John 10:18) resurrected from the dead as the first person to resurrect and live forever. He was the example of what God plans to do for all who put their trust and faith in Jesus...

I would tell them that...mixed in with something else.

The gospel alone is exceedingly powerful. However, strangely, that is not purely how faith is shared. Which brings me to the last person who is raised from the dead:

Eutychus.

Who? Exactly. The story of Eutychus is a weird freak accident mixed in with a ton of other stories in a book of the bible called "Acts."

The book of Acts is written by Luke (who also wrote the gospel Luke). I had forgotten, but someone reminded me, that Luke wrote the book of Acts to a specific person: Theophilus.

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. - Acts 1:1-2

But guess what? He wrote the gospel of Luke to Theophilus as well!

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. - Luke 1:1-4

So, Luke writes two books of the Bible that, when I think about, truly exemplify the way people typically share their faith.

  1. We first hit you with the gospel of Jesus Christ
  2. Then we bombard you with stories about how we have seen the Holy Spirit at work in both our own lives and the lives of others.
We will tell you of everything we witnessed that confirmed to us that the Jesus of the Bible was real. Do you think we just heard this story about the 1) life, 2) death and 3) resurrection of some guy who claimed to love us and that was it? No! ...We gathered some experiential evidence. We saw things. We felt things. We did things ourselves that we know were beyond our power. And we knew: umm...this is real!

And we share that evidence. We all have our own "Acts" that we share with people. One of Luke's stories was about a young man named Eutychus:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted. 
- Acts 20:7-12

Let me tell you what the morale of this story is not
  • Don't preach too long
  • Don't fall asleep in church
Even though I don't enjoy an overlong service...that's not what this about. Even though it's sort of embarrassing to sleep in church...it's hardly a death sentence. What this is about is Luke saying: 

"Look at what God did Theophilus!"** 

In John's gospel, he states that he didn't write everything down. But what he did write down...he wrote so that you (the reader) would believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:30-31). Luke is no different. Luke was an eyewitness to this event. And since he was a medical doctor, he knew what he was talking about when he said: "he was dead." But the power of God in Paul... The Holy Spirit in Paul... The working of Jesus, from that gospel I told you about earlier, gave life where there was death!
"Look at what God did Theophilus!"

And then Paul went right back upstairs, ate, and resumed his preaching until the break of dawn.  

Note: Paul only planned to preach until midnight. And what you'd think would be a "let's call it" moment, actually sparked an even greater fire in the hearts of Paul and his congregants. They'd all seen it--the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit and they stayed in that room until daybreak. 


Luke is telling all of this to Theophilus...so he too could become a believer. And by believing have life in Jesus' name. 


**Don't we all envision Luke the Evangelist as Ryan Gosling? No? It's just me? Fine then...

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