Just a few minutes left on St. Patrick’s Day, but tonight I’ve been revisiting his story. Now, so far I haven’t uncovered any green beer or Leprechauns, but I did come across some very good stuff!
We can’t recover a lot of A.D. fourth-fifth century details, mainly due to a lot of sixth century legends of his magical powers. What we do have is his Declaration or accounting for his life or Confessio (not a typo, but a cognate straight from Latin).
It’s Patrick’s 2 Corinthians. Here he answers his critics and gives a very personal accounting for his spiritual journey and ministry. We can trust it’s his, because it’s not all positive, but it is all accounted for in God’s mercy. Few people in ministry are this honest about their journey, fears, and failings. It’s the age of spin now, but not then.
Don’t know that he drove out snakes. Do know that he was held captive 6 years. Don’t know that he held magical sway over any who threatened. Do know that God gave him favor and speed in several key situations. There appears to have been nothing special about him, but a simple, radical obedience to God in all things after faith. God said, “Do it,” and He had him a man in Britain who would.
God called him through dreams to go back to the land of his captivity and spread the good news. Thousands answered his invitation. He saw as validation that many were called away from deep immorality to compassion, service, ministry, and even celibacy.
He had settled on his faith while away (people saw a huge difference) and actually came to love his captors and desired for their full freedom in Christ. 30-40 of Ireland’s 150 tribes were converted. And not by traditional means. He used indigenous forms to tell the old story. He listened to their stories and told his in a way they could understand. He apparently worked within families soon after conversion. With contagious faith, these families would then start a church. Others then branched out right away to extend the faith outward, starting another church. It happened amazingly fast, all in the later years of his life.
Here’s his advice to us:
“According, therefore, to the measure of one’s faith in the trinity, one should proceed without holding back from danger, to make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, to spread God’s name everywhere with confidence and without fear…”
“Confessio” (pt 14)
I have a Confessio to make. It’s to and for everyone I meet. Today and always, where I live, may I make known this good news to everyone who will listen. It’s so amazingly precious. How can we not share? People are so valuable in God’s sight. How can we not love them with our lives. Every one of them.
For further reading: The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by George Hunter, III (2010 Abingdon Press-recently revised and updated)
“Remember, from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
Today the Lenten journey began. Lent is about considering our mortality and dependence on God who will one day judge the earth. It’s about numbering your days so you see the value of each moment. It’s about becoming less so God becomes greater in your life. It’s about following Jesus’ example of emptying yourself of all but love. It’s also about making room in your life for others. Don’t let the journey inward keep you from what Jesus called the will of the father. John 4 tells us Jesus at times went without food in order to share faith with people far from God. So as you draw nearer to God, remember how his heart beats for those far from him. Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in your life and mine!
Grace and Peace
Twenty-nine. That’s number of students who just completed Sharing Our Faith, a 1 credit-hour course I just taught at Olivet Nazarene University. The twenty-nine and I studied to learn more about our faith so we could be ready to help someone else who may have spiritual questions. We also learned together about being a good friend and co-worker. Sometimes believers are better at pushing a message than living one. One interesting idea from the book Workplace Grace: The most important way to earn the right to be heard is to be good at your job. If care about reaching out to others who need faith, then get good at what you do everyday. Integrity speaks louder than words. On page 29 it lists Daniel, David, Nehemiah and others as heroes of the faith who worked secular jobs with integrity and changed the world.
Just Walk Across the Room is another great collection of resources that emphasizes how to show love in the simplest ways to others. On page 29 it says, “It’s as though Jesus is saying to his followers, “What I did as I walked across the cosmos all those years ago, I now want you to do. Every day, try to point every person you meet to me…” Most people get a little terrified to be asked challenging questions of faith, but anyone can say hello and introduce themselves to a neighbor, co-worker, or person standing alone at an event. This kind of simple hospitality is another important way to show love. Who knows where some of these conversations might lead? But it can actually save a life to say hello to someone who looks discouraged. Just knowing one other person might care, can keep a person going. The goal is not to convert someone. The goal is to love them like Jesus. And to be willing to listen to their story and share your own if the opportunity arises. Knowing them changes us for the better as well.
I was impressed with how much they cared and how hard they worked. We prayed for friends, we laughed about stories. We even threw a party at the end because it’s one of the best expressions of the Kingdom!
If they all make a difference in one life each, that doubles the impact. If the chain goes on from there it gets exciting pretty fast. I guess that’s how the faith made it all the way from Jerusalem to Chicagoland 2,000 years later.
On the Second to last day of class I told everyone that I was looking forward to seeing them all one day when we stand before God. I told them the goal is hear Jesus say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” I told them how great it will be to stand and hear these words because their faith in Christ opened the door to God’s grace that made us whole. But then I said I hope we get a chance to hang out together while that’s still going on. I can’t wait to see all the people who experience heaven because these students cared. I think all 29 will be fist-bumping each other as they overhear their friends, co-workers, family, and neighbors being told “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” I can’t imagine a greater feeling in the world! Knowing that you had some small part in helping someone experience saving-faith in God. It’s a vision to live toward with our whole lives. We can bring heaven to earth now and experience the fullness of the Kingdom, then. 29=pure joy forever for who knows how many others! Can’t wait. 29
When was the last time God opened a door for you to share your faith with someone else? When was the last time God nudged you to start a new friendship just to show love and care? What could God help you do today to show compassion to someone else?
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread… (I Corinthians 11:23 NIV)
This Sunday is worldwide communion Sunday! We’ll be gathering to celebrate and give thanks around God’s table. What strikes me this morning is how fragile the Good News really can be. As powerful and durable as this spiritual meal has been, it all comes down to the line…”what I received…I also passed on to you. ” What I know about Jesus, I know because my mother took me to church and told me. What if she had almost gone but didn’t? That’s what happened for years until her neighbor, Ruth Crow, knocked on the door of my parents’ apartment and invited mom to church through the screen door.
Who first brought you to church? Who passed on to you what they received? Who will know about Jesus because you told them? I’m so glad Paul and Ruth and then Lavada passed it on!
Invite someone to worship with you this week. If you don’t attend a church, consider yourself invited to NewHope 10:30am Sunday. After a fun and meaningful service we’ll feast together at our Fall Family Fun Fest! Pass it on!…