Most Excellent Theophilus
It’s late, and I’ve been at it all day. For some reason, I am not quite tired yet. I’m sure that will change in a little while, but I’ve been thinking about something I heard earlier today. Now don’t expect some big lesson – just a little insight.
Today, I was a guest of PNC Bank at their annual Economic Outlook Luncheon that was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. I know quite a number of bank officers with PNC; and many of my clients have moved their business to that bank. So, I usually get invitations to some of their hosted events. Anyway, today, the speakers were Governor Mitch Daniels, of Indiana, and Brad Stevens, Head Coach of the Butler Bulldogs basketball team. You know, the team that made it to the NCAA Final Game two years in a row – unfortunately, without winning either time. Nonetheless, a great accomplishment for a young coach, and a nice guy at that!
Now I am not overly political, and most of the time, I couldn’t care less about sports, but I do like to hear the more personal stories of men and women in positions of authority. And so it was today. Gov. Daniels spoke first; and provided an enlightening look at what the country has gone through; and in his opinion, what we can look for in the next year or two. He referred to 2012 as a “rebuilding” year, much like a team that has lost most of its starters, and wasn’t quite sure yet what to expect. He was rather outspoken about being more authentic, on both sides of the political aisle, and I was very impressed with what he said. I am disappointed that he has decided not to run for President in the next election. I even remember meeting him several times at Jonathan Byrd’s, in Greenwood, as my friend Jonathan was trying to convince Mitch to run for Governor before his first election.
After the Governor finished, Brad Stevens stood up to give a forward look at what the next year holds for his beloved Bulldogs. Bobby Knight was also in town last night, so Indiana has had its share of sports stuff the last several days. While I enjoyed the opportunity to look behind the curtain a little as Brad told us about the bonding of a team, he said something that really struck a chord with me. Several minutes into his talk, he said, “Success is having something. Excellence is being something.” Now I am sure that somebody said that before Brad, but today was the first time that I’ve ever heard that statement. It really resonated with me. Because we chase things our whole lives – in search of success. But we should be spending more time concentrating on excellence – who we wish to become.
Of course, my mind jumped right to the Scriptures. I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite verses in Luke, right in the beginning of the book. You see, Luke, as a doctor, undertook the writing of his book; citing his complete, thorough investigation, including the use of eyewitnesses, to tell the truth about Jesus Christ. In Luke, 1:3, Luke wants us to know the depth of his study on this important topic, and writes, “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus…”
Notice that Luke tells us that he himself has done the work, having carefully investigated everything from the beginning; and he felt compelled to write an orderly account of the story of Jesus Christ. You can tell that he was serious about this. After all, Luke walked with Christ, and was taught by Jesus Himself. Then Luke adds an interesting conclusion to his statement ….. “most excellent Theolphilus.” What’s this all about?
Well, theologians disagree about the exact meaning, but here are the thoughts. One camp suggests that Theolphilus was either an elder or well known member in the early church. In other words, he was a real person. But the other position, perhaps even more credible than the first, maintains that Theophilus is not a person, but a term of endearment referring to the believers in the church. In the Greek, the name means “friend of God”, in fact, “an excellent friend of God.”
Luke commends the people of church for being excellent – in other words, trying to be something more than ordinary. They were not to be worried about what they had, but about what they were striving to become – dedicated worshippers of Jesus Christ. And Luke was there to help them on their journey, by providing them with definitive knowledge and wisdom about Jesus. I just love that – Luke was pushing the envelope of excellence, and he recognized it in the attitudes of the people in the early church.
My encouragement tonight is to strive to be excellent, as it is much more important than being successful. And my prayer is that God will put people in your life who will push you, like Luke did in the early church, to be dedicated to knowing the truth about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. By surrounding yourself with the truth, and being committed to a lifetime of exposure and learning about God, we can also live up to the title, “most excellent Theophilus…”