2012-03-18 - Someone to
I'm going to give you a painless quiz: Whom do you think I'm telling you
about, when I say: (1) He was a fervent evangelizer, and used well-understood
"props" to help people understand the Gospel, such as (legend has it) using
the Shamrock to teach about the Trinity. (2) He was a church planter. (3)
He went back to the country where he was imprisoned, and he loved and witnessed
to those folks. (4) One of his church sites was called "Saul." Can you guess?
Scroll down a little bit.
The answer is Patrick of Ireland, commonly known as St. Patrick. Since the
Protestant church didn't even exist until 1000 years later, Patrick was neither
Catholic nor Protestant; he was simply a Christian, for there was only one
church in the world, at that time.
What can we learn from our Christian brother Patrick?
We can be reminded that our priority is to help further the goals of the
Kingdom of God, by sharing our faith. Does this mean we all have to bang
on people's doors, insensitive to their situations (I once was part of a
group that barged in on a grieving family with no notice, and it was an
eye-opening experience that I never forgot, that our timing must be Spirit-led
and sensitive to people's feelings.)? Though some are gifted per se as
evangelists, many of us are not. It simply means God can and will use each
one of us, via our own gifts (one-on-one listening, singing, playing an
instrument to His glory, working with the poor, sharing with someone who
has a similar experience to ours etc.), to further His Kingdom.
As 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) says,
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who
asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have."
We can learn that however God calls us, we can help support the planting
of churches where there are no churches, or among "unreached peoples." I'm
not advocating splitting off current churches, for the sake of making new
ones to reach other groups; I personally believe that's poor stewardship
of both human and financial resources as well as disruptive to family fellowship,
and that the current churches need to assess and meet needs - as God calls
them, though everyone must follow what they believe to be God's leading.
But in 2012, there are still many folks who don't have a Biblically sound
church within their community, or walking distance (for those unable to afford
We can learn to forgive and love those who hurt us, as our Lord Jesus Himself
taught us. Does that mean condoning what they did wrong, or not holding them
accountable? Of course not. In fact, that would not only not be just, but
to do so would impede the spiritual growth of the offender. It does mean
to realize Jesus died for that person as well, and we are to pray for them,
and do whatever God leads us to do, in that relationship.
So as we celebrate the good things Ireland has given us (and I do admittedly
speak with a bias, as I have many Irish ancestors), let's not forget how
Patrick lived his life, and may we all do likewise, as we are led.