Dr. Richard Lucas was a professor of preaching at a local seminary in Nashville. He knew every famous preacher. Over the course of his long career, Dr. Lucas had preached a sermon on every text in the Bible. Of all the people I have known in my life, he might be the only one who loved preaching as much as I do. Dr. Lucas loved to talk about preaching. He loved to talk about the text worked and how, if you paid attention, the Biblical text would tell you how it wanted to be preached. He wanted to know where a good illustration could be found, and if I had heard anyone else preach on this text. Dr. Lucas wanted to know how my opening illustration had been chosen, and if I knew how many times that Greek verb tense appeared in the New Testament.
And he wanted to talk to me every Sunday right after I preached. At the end of every sermon, he would stand to the side and wait until I had finished greeting new members and guests and, with his Bible open to that morning's passage, he would start asking me questions about how I had arrived at that sermon from that text. Our discussions would last anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes in the break between the first and second services. The discussion was always lively and sometimes, intense. Not in a bad way, but in the way conversations get when two people are passionate about a topic and voices get a little louder than we intended and gestures a little bigger than realized.
And did I mention, he did this EVERY SUNDAY?
Once as I walked away from one of my weekly sessions with Dr. Lucas, a friend asked me if that bothered me. Yes, I said, it used to. Then I realized what was going on. I went on to explain to my friend that Dr. Lucas was a teacher. He had dedicated his life to the ministry of preaching. He might be retired from his position at the seminary, but he was still a teacher. Nothing was more important to a teacher than finding a student worthy of their teaching. Dr. Lucas needed to find someone to pass along all that he had learned. Someone who would value what he had learned the same way he did and for some reason, Dr. Lucas chose me.
In his mind, Dr. Lucas had found in me a student worthy of his time. He had decided my ministry, my preaching, and my life was valuable enough to receive his two most important gifts -- his attention and his time.
Dr. Lucas found me worthy of his time. It's one of the highest honors I have ever received in the course of my ministry.
One of the most overlooked, but profound, aspects of the gospel is the reality that God has found us to be worthy of His time. For whatever reason, God likes hanging around the human beings He created. The Bible tells us God spoke to Moses the way a friend talks to a friend. Abraham tells us God dropped by for dinner. The gospels are filled with stories of Jesus going to weddings, eating at people's homes, and walking for miles with His disciples. Throughout the Bible, we see the promise that if we call out to God He'll answer; that if we'll listen He will teach us; that He's always watching so not even sparrows fall without Him knowing. Aren't we worth more than sparrows?
One of the most common titles for Jesus is "rabbi," or "teacher." Jesus taught His disciples. He opened the Scriptures and explained the passages to those listening. Like any teacher, nothing excited Jesus more than an eager student. A teacher will spend all day with an enthusiastic student and Jesus will spend as much time with us as we will give Him. Great teachers are like that.
Christianity teaches that our Rabbi is alive and our Rabbi has promised if we'll sit down and open His Word, He'll teach us just like He taught Peter, James, John, Thomas, and all the rest. For some reason, Jesus believes we are worthy of His time. He deems us as students worthy to know what He knows. Our lives are worth the investment of His time.
In Christ, God tells us we are worthy of His time and attention. There is no greater honor than His full attention.