Knowing with Certainty
God on Monday
Welcome to the fourth God on Monday reflection on 'purpose'!
Healthcare professionals have traditionally done their work out of the public gaze. While their skill and knowledge has been of great interest to patients and their loved ones, they have not been regarded as newsworthy.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, all this has changed. Rarely does a news story about it end without reference having been made to medical experts working in hospitals, GP surgeries, and research institutions.
The only healthcare professional to gain prominence in the bible is the doctor called Luke. He is generally considered the author not only of the Gospel of Luke but also the Book of Acts. But we know very little about him and we are given no clues as to his medical skills.
It is clear, however, that Luke was in possession of some additional skill sets. Judging by his writings, he was not only an accomplished historian but an artist who used words, rather than paint, to communicate. Indeed, so captivated was this gentle gentile doctor with the all-embracing love of God that he used his best historical and linguistic skills to tell the good news.
This is reflected in the opening verses of his Gospel – they contain some of the New Testament’s most beautiful Greek. In those verses he makes clear to Theophilus, to whom he addresses his Gospel, his purpose in writing: that Theophilus might ‘know the certainty of the things you have been taught’ (Lk 1.4).
Uncertainty pervades the current pandemic. Yet the media resounds daily with pleas for certainty – when will we be able to reopen our schools and businesses? When will all those categorized as ‘at risk’ be vaccinated? When can the anti-contagion protocols that have put our normal lives on hold be relaxed?
The best response, guided by the most reliable science, is that we cannot be certain. This is deeply unsettling to modern mindsets, which have assumed that, whereas faith deals in things about which we cannot be certain, science offers certainty.
Luke understood the benefits of good science, accurate history, and careful writing. Insofar as they helped to reduce unnecessary uncertainty, he was fulfilling a great purpose in pursuing them. His aim, indeed, was to put these things at the service of a truth of which human beings could be absolutely certain – the truth of the infinite, unconditional and redeeming love of God made manifest in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now there’s a higher purpose to which we too can dedicate our skills, knowledge and opportunities.
Peter S Heslam, Director of Faith in Business