St. Luke the Evangelist Icon
from the royal gates of the central iconostasis
of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg
What struck me in today’s reading is how God uses very different people. Can you imagine two first century Jews more different, in a way, than John the Baptist and Jesus? Here is what C. S. Lewis had to say about the matter….
About the question of abandoning the “World” or fighting right inside it, don’t you think that both may be right for different people? Some are called to the one and some to the other. Hence Our Lord, after pointing the contrast between the hermit and ascetic John the Baptist, and Himself who drank wine & went to dinner parties and jostled with every kind of man, concluded “But Wisdom is justified of all her children”: meaning, I take it, both these kinds. I fancy we are all too ready, once we are converted ourselves, to assume that God will deal with everyone exactly as He does with us. But He is no mass-producer and treats no two quite alike. (From a letter to Mrs. D. Jessup, February 5, 1954)
I met some people this week who certain Christians would not consider godly at all. Yet, in hearing their stories I could not help but think God was working in their lives, in his own unique way, to draw them to himself and to use them for his kingdom purposes.
Think about how different each of the Gospel writers were. Mark was a young man when he wrote down the remembrances of Jesus he had heard, most likely, from his Uncle Peter. His Gospel has been called by a Catholic priest friend of mine, “The Gospel in the Raw,” due to its rough and ready style. Matthew was a first century Jew, gathering up various sources on the life of Jesus and presenting them in his own, rather perfectionist way, to a first century Jewish audience. Then there is Luke, whom I take to be one of the traveling companions of Paul. Luke presents a two-volume work, with Acts as the second volume. He writes more for a Gentile audience. And though he presents many of the same stories as Mark and Matthew, have you noticed already how he has different emphases? Luke is especially concerned about the role of women in the Kingdom. Thus, he presents the stories of Elizabeth, Mary, Anna, as well as the female disciples of Jesus (Luke 8:2-3). Luke also has a unique emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) that will come to fruition in his second volume.
If God could use such a wide variety of people in the first century to accomplish his kingdom purposes, do you not think that God will continue to use a wide variety of people today? Why not allow God to work in a unique way in you, rather than trying to be like someone else? Why not allow God to work in a unique way in others, rather than insisting that he mass-produce saints in a cookie cutter fashion?