The Obligatory St. Patrick’s Day Post!
Today is of course the day that people drink green beer, wear green face/body paint, and usually end up doing really stupid things. Why do we do this…well to honor a man who gave his life to reaching people for Christ of course! Makes total sense to me.
The legend of Patrick is quite verbose and exaggerated, but it’s important to note that the legend stems from a real man, who did real things. Allow me to first get a few things out of the way. Patrick was not Irish, he was more than likely Scottish. He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland…as there were no snakes to drive out. He probably didn’t use the three leaves of the Shamrock to teach about the Trinity. And, Saint Patrick, is actually not considered a saint.
Patrick is embraced primarily in the Roman Catholic tradition but we have to remember that he lived very early on in the history of the church, 387-450/60’s AD, and the church at that time was still primarily Biblical in it’s approach. In fact, the early church fathers Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine were still alive, so his message of salvation in Jesus Christ, his understanding of Mary, and his view of Biblical authority would be very similar to what we would call Evangelical. So, even though he is claimed by Catholicism as a pseudo-saint, in reality he is someone that the entirety of Christendom can look up to, honor, and learn from.
So, what can we learn from this man? First, I believe that we can learn that you don’t need a profound education to make a profound impact. Patrick often called himself unlearned and simple, but it was just this thing that made him so effective in reaching the tribal Druid groups that inhabited Ireland. Patrick wasn’t the first missionary to go to Ireland, he was just the first one to be effective!
Second, we can learn forgiveness. Patrick was actually captured by a Druid Chieftain when he was 16 years old and made his slave. In his autobiography, he states that he was certain that at any time he would be sacrificed to one of their Gods. However, Patrick escaped and made his way back to his family. After several years, Patrick had a dream that he believed was God’s way of telling him to go back and be a missionary to these people. According to legend, yes I know, the Chieftain that was his master was one of his first converts. Can you imagine going back to preach Christ to people who had not only enslaved you, but killed those you loved?
Finally, we can learn endurance. This man dedicated his life to the work in Ireland, he had no hopes nor desire to ‘go back home’ and retire. Ireland was his new home. Almost daily, especially early on, he was faced with danger, ridicule, and rejection; but he refused to quit. Some call this stubbornness other call it perseverance, you can call it whatever you want and I’d encourage you to emulate it!
So, tonight as you are enveloped in a sea of green ‘insert noun here’, just remember that there really was a guy named Patrick who loved Jesus and made a difference!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!