(I am) A Light to the Gentiles
Dear spiritual children,
It seems as though the words in my last testimony made you react with so many strong outlashings and bitternesses. I planned to comment and share my spiritual wisdom with you, but this reaction greatly frightened me and thus prevented me from doing so. To be honest, I felt like the Saint Paul when he was lashed forty times plus one from the Jews. But you know, Saint Paul was tended to by Luke the physician, whose gospel we happen to be studying. In the same way, as I read and meditate on his gospel, it is like he is tending to my spiritual wounds as well. I was like Daniel in the lions’ den and God protected me by eventually shutting your mouths after you got all of your garbages out through commenting.
So, when the storm had finally passed and all was quiet, I could gain more insights into why we had a severe clashing. Like Isaiah says, we are all like sheep who have gone astray. And of course, some sheep stray more than others. As the common American expression goes, “we are like two sheeps passing in the night”. Indeed, it is hard for spiritual giants to relate to others some times. So, I think that we may need the great shepherd, Missionary Shepherd Samuel Lee PhD, to give us guidance in this matter. He wrote an introduction to Luke’s gospel, and this will be the content of our lesson today. Gather around children and let us drink in this spiritual wisdom together.
Our great shepherd begins,
“It is impossible to write an introduction to the gospel according to St. Luke, because there is a danger that the introduction will be longer than the text. So it is summarized with a brief preface.”
Again, there is a danger. Whether it is good or bad, I will let you be the judge this time. I remember as a young boy, I would roam the Korean country side, looking at all of the beautiful mountains, the flowers and the vast East Korean Sea. I could write about everything, or so I thought. But the danger was that all of the paper and ink in the world may have been exhausted by writing about such majesty and beauty. Then no school children would be able to finish their studies. And tragically, the modern society would become uneducated and eventually collapse and fall apart. This is what it is like to attempt to comment on something that only a spiritual giant would dare to do. Who can capture these kinds of majesties with only a pen and paper and at the same time avoid destroying oneself and the society? Only Samuel Lee can record the deep things of mysterious grandeur and summarize them for us. Then he will feed us like baby sheep suckling from the mother lamb. So let us begin.
First, Luke, the Author
SL states about Luke,
“Luke is known as a Gentile and a historian because of his universal point of view. But when we study the Bible broadly, we don’t find any hint that Luke was a Gentile. Still, people call him a Gentile. Maybe it is because his gospel is universal: He included Gentile people for their salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord as much as Jewish people.”
Have you ever thought of why we refer to Luke as a Gentile? I never gave it much thought, but only accepted it at face value. But SL is right to point out that the Bible never says with certainty that he is either a Jew or a Gentile. Luke’s gospel is universal, showing that God even loved the untouchable Gentiles. When I became a Christian, in my college days in Korea, I had the vision to go to America. When I arrived here, I encountered many students who seemed so outwardly noble, like Jews. But inwardly, they were very much like Gentiles in terms of inner desires. But I realized that God so loved these Gentile-like Americans and so I could be a light to them, teaching them the Bible with all of my heart. I could begin to relate to them by watching many American movies on my VHS system, such as Ghostbusters, Good Fellas, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and National Lampoons. Various movies gave me insight into the minds of my sheep. Mainly, I learned that Americans are preoccupied with the occult, gangster activity and navigating the difficulties of vacationing. SL continues,
“Humanly speaking, for Luke to remain as a medical doctor was very reasonable. But since he was converted to Christianity, his priority was changed to Jesus first, and to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus to the whole world.”
Luke probably could have made a lot of money during his lifetime as a medical doctor. He also enjoyed the prestige and recognition that came with such a position. But in private, he must have been very sorrowful because he had no purpose of life. He began to make many misdiagnoses because of his meaninglessness. Then, when he met Jesus, he became so happy because he found the forgiveness of sins and meaning of life through him. He left his medical practice and began to follow the number two of Christianity, Saint Paul, serving as his personal physician. From Luke’s life direction, I could gain wisdom about how to teach my Bible students to value following Jesus more than the worldly success. Many students want to spend much time studying, getting into the best universities so that they can secure a good future for themselves. But I explain to them that eventually, they will find that the world is meaningless and that they will not be happy no matter how much they study. I instead encourage them to put the Bible study first, even if it means they will lose school study time. In this way, they can grow to be truly spiritual disciples of Jesus. By the way, I am so proud of my children who all got into the Ivy League universities and have become doctors and got good jobs. They don’t teach the Bible or go fishing, but instead Jesus has a special plan for them to be exceptional disciples who can contribute to the society for his glory. But among my bible students, it is crystal clear that God called them to be bible teachers first and foremost. Why else would God call them to UBF if this was not his intention for them? They should strive to be like Luke, who gave up his worldly ambition to serve God’s servants. Amen.
Second, Luke Gives a Special Position to Women
“In Palestine, the place of women was not regarded. For example, when Jesus was carrying out the Messianic ministry around the Galilean district, many people, around 5,000 men, gathered (Lk 9:14). They did not include women and children in the count, because at that time women’s human dignity and equality were not appreciated. Children were also not numbered because the bigoted Jewish people were all money lovers. So children who had no labor power or could not earn money were unimportant.”
Luke was so keen to notice how Jesus included women into God’s world salvation plan. I was surprised to learn from SL that the Jews were bigoted money lovers. I suppose this makes sense and is factually correct seeing as how they did not care for those who couldn’t earn money, like children. However, this is a natural tendency for all of mankind. Sometimes, I would look at my small children and only see them as mouths to feed or nuisances who interrupted my Bible studies with college students. But SL newly opened my eyes that from the Bible’s point of view perhaps we should give them equal status with everyone else. Maybe, maybe not, only God knows in the end. SL continues,
“In Luke chapters 1-2, there appear Elizabeth and Anna. Humanly speaking, they were useless. They were no more than senior citizens who deserved food stamps. But Luke saw with spiritual eyes and recognized them as the lamp of God. They were old and useless. But in the sight of God they were praying women.”
Through SL, a repeated lesson that I have learned from him is that people are either useless or useful. It is very simple, if God does not call you into his service, then you are like chaff that the wind will blow away. You are like a hammer with no handle or a toilet that won’t flush. But when God calls you, even though you have many weaknesses, you can be a useful tool to him, like a pot used for a noble purpose.
SL gives many beautiful examples of useful women, such as those who financed Jesus’ ministry, the merchant, Lydia, Mary the mother of Jesus and others. We can put Mother Barry on equal footing with these spiritual pioneering women. She was once a southern belle in Mississippi who enjoyed her large book collection and even her own horse. But when she went to South Korea, she met Chang Woo Lee, and then suddenly the scales fell from her eyes to co-create UBF ministry and care for college students who suffered from deep meaninglessness. In this way, she could inspire many more strong women, such as my precious co-worker shepherdess Sincere, to be a good influence in the ministry and become world changers. Amen!
Third, the Outstanding Universality of Luke’s Gospel
SL relates a breath-taking story,
“Once an English novelist was convinced that he could write a better parable than Luke’s gospel chapter 15. So the English government gave him five years of time and he tried to write a better parable of the prodigal son. The government was supposed to reward him with one million pounds. When the day came to hand in his parable, he pleaded with the government officials to give him three years more to write the parable, and after three years, another two years. Finally he surrendered himself to Luke’s gospel chapter 15.”
SL didn’t list any sources for this story and I’ve never heard it before now, but anyway it probably happened. It is totally believable because the Bible is God’s own literature which surpasses anything that could ever be written in the history of mankind. The word of God has power to change people. The Bibles in our hands are powerful tools to drive away the dark forces of Satan and bring people to God. SL relates one of these most life-changing stories to us,
“The parable of the good Samaritan is a very familiar story to our ears. The characters are an orthodox Jew, a religious Levite, and a vigorous merchant. They saw a man badly wounded by gangsters. But the orthodox Jew turned around and ran away with an excuse that he must keep his worship service time. The religious Levite knew he should take care of the wounded man. But in order not to miss singing in the vocal team, he ran away with full speed. But the Samaritan, a Gentile, ruined his business and gave all his money and saved this man’s life. This story is not at all dogmatic. But it reveals the universal love of God. Who could have been the most happy?”
May God’s servant not be angry with me, but I was severely confused by this commentary. On the one hand, I understand that the Gentile was happier than the money-loving Jews who would not spend a dime to help the injured man. But on the other hand, wouldn’t the Levite and priest be the most happy by loving God through attending the worship service and singing on the vocal team? I am getting mixed messages here. I need to meditate on this commentary more deeply.
SL explains probably one of the most important spiritual lessons through the story of the ten lepers,
“When they were healed, the nine Jewish lepers went to their mommies, or went around claiming that they healed their leprosy by their own effort. Jesus was very sorry that they did not come back to thank Jesus for the healing. Only one man came and thanked Jesus for his healing. He was a Samaritan, a Gentile. Jesus was very sorry that God’s chosen people all forgot God’s grace; they were saved from their leprosy, but they did not have a thankful mind. Jesus was very sorry, because they were supposed to be shepherds and Bible teachers and a blessing to the Gentile people. But they were really unthankful. Their root was totally corrupted because they did not thank God. Unthankfullness is the root of sin. Jesus was very sorry, because there were so many people who should study the Bible with his chosen people, but his people were worse than the lepers.”
Here I learned that the root of sin is unthankfulness. When Jesus heals us, if we do not become shepherds and bible teachers but only enjoy our healing, we are worse off than before we were saved. Some of my Bible students went to other churches after meeting Jesus through Bible study. They did not stay to become shepherds, something which has surely broken God’s heart. They have become like the useless Jews who were unthankful. Nevertheless, God will raise up other students in their places who will show their gratitude by becoming shepherds and Bible teachers. Amen!
Fourth, the Kingdom of God
On the kingdom of God in Luke’s gospel, SL states,
“But Luke’s gospel’s teaching of the kingdom of God is far superior to Matthew’s gospel in planting the kingdom of God in the hearts of vulgar people who are suffering under Satan’s rule.”
Indeed, those who do not know God are simply vile and vulgar people. In contrast, we who have the kingdom of God in our hearts are like those who have precious feet and faces like angels which shine light into the darkened hearts of men. When God rules over us, we are much better than those in the modern, secular society.
Fifth, Luke’s View of Discipleship Training
SL explains the mindset of the disciples when faced with Jesus’ main teaching,
“According to Luke’s account Jesus emphasized to his disciples that he should suffer and be handed over to the Gentiles and should die on the cross and rise again on the third day. Whenever Luke emphasized this, he related that Jesus’ suffering and death is to fulfill the will of God and the will of God is that he would become the Lamb of God for the sin of the world. The disciples, who had been clumps of desires, were not willing to understand the way of the cross.”
I have found this lesson to be true as well. Before my Bible students meet Jesus, they are like useless clumps of sinful desires. They do not understand the way of self-denial and taking up the cross. In fact, before I knew Jesus, I was a useless and dishonest creature, a mere worm in fact. But when I began to deny myself and take up the crosses of world mission, bible study, shepherding and school studies I could find true happiness in Jesus. I went from a clump of dirt to a happy disciple of Jesus.
SL closes his preface to Luke’s gospel with the precious example of the risen Jesus, who taught the Bible as of first importance (Lk 24),
“May God raise us as Bible teachers like Jesus. May God open our spiritual eyes to see the Risen Jesus. May God help us study the Bible truth, and believe in our hearts, and see from God’s point of view with universal eyes so that we can really understand God is like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son in chapter 15. May God give us universal love, so that we can embrace all kinds of sheep without any prejudice like Luke, a servant of God.”
Bible study and teaching are central parts of our spiritual lives that we cannot neglect. It is the only way in which people can have their eyes opened to know God and inherit eternal life. If we do not teach the Bible, then many students will tragically perish in their sins. We must see them as the prodigal son from Luke 15 who despaired after visiting prostitutes and eating with pigs. We must be good older brothers who will teach them the truth from the Bible and guide them to carry many crosses. When they are truly thankful for their salvation, then it will show in how much they teach the Bible and shepherd others. Instead of enjoying the worldly pleasures, they will become spiritual world changers and gospel workers.
Thank God for this Luke’s gospel study! I hope that SL’s condensed summary has shown like beautiful sunlight into your hearts. I long to bring you under my spiritual wing so that we can continue to enjoy these precious meditations together! From this point forward, in this Ubfriends community, let’s start a new history together. Amen!