“Only Luke is with me.”
I read this line a few days ago and it has haunted me ever since. The words are from Paul in his second letter to Timothy. He is in prison and we know now that it is the very last letter he will write before he is martyred. He ends his letter listing off many who have recently abandoned him and he shares that, “only Luke is with him.”
I don’t like this Paul. I like the Paul that is a glorious hero of the faith. I like the Paul who wrote around half of the books in the New Testament and is a really big deal with some really great lines like, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Yeah!I like “Conqueror Paul”! He did it, he fought and won, he finished the race, he kept the faith!
But here’s the thing about that awesome line from “Conqueror Paul”, it’s taken out of context. It’s written after he says that he’s been poured out like a drink offering and right before he says that only Luke is with him.
So, the question I ask myself is this, “do I really like Paul?” If I were reading the last part of that letter and I only knew that it was from a Christian leader, how would I feel about him? Would I want to go to his church? Would I want to partner with him in ministry? I don’t think I would.
Based on the standards that we set for a successful ministry or a successful pastor, Paul sounds like a LOSER. He’s in prison, most of the people in his life have abandoned him and he is about to be killed. He does not sound like the kind of guy who has a blue check mark by his name and a large following on Twitter.
And yet, there is Luke. Even though everyone has abandoned Paul, Luke is still there. Even though Paul’s following has only gotten smaller, Luke is still there. Even though Paul is yet again in prison and even though he is about to be killed, Luke is still there.
Lord, help me to be like Luke