Someone told me today, “I don’t know why my kids have to go to school today, I consider St. Patrick’s Day a national holiday.” Why? Why does America get so excited and choose to celebrate about old, dead Pat? Here’s an interesting post titled, “St. Patrick’s Day Around the World”.
But more importantly what did Saint Patrick do?
Patrick had Christian parents in Roman Britain but didn’t take it seriously until he was kidnapped and made a slave (“as a swineherd”) in northern Ireland. He prayed faithfully and escaped, traveling “two hundred miles on foot to the coast.” He then got a job on a ship and went to France then to a “Mediterranean monastery.” He returned to his homeland but he kept having dreams of Irish children asking him to come back to them and teach them about Christ. He felt inadequate to preach the gospel so he went to France to study at a monastery and returned to Ireland in 432 AD.
Patrick had to deal with Druids (“keepers of the old paganism”) and hostile chieftains but somehow got through to everyone. Years before Patrick was a missionary a man named Palladius tried to convert the Irish people but had very little success. It seems Patrick’s time as a slave helped him understand the people in a way that they listened to him. It is estimated that he planted 300 churches and baptized around 120,000 people! (Source 4)
It’s incredible that a guy who came to fame because he wanted to tell everybody about Jesus 1584 years ago in Ireland is celebrated with an unofficial holiday in the United States today! “You bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8). So Jesus says that by the “fruit” or works of a believer they will be known. These aren’t what I call “striving works” (as if you could do good works to get into heaven) but instead what I call “proving works” (where Jesus works through us, proving He is the only real hope). Wanna know what that “fruit” looks like? Read my Devotional # 93.
Now we’re beyond drinking beer and wearing green…we’re looking at the heart of Patrick who truly had a heart for others. Whether you’re a Scotchman called to preach to the Irish or a Japanese American called to speak to Zimbabwe, what matters is that when Jesus said to go out and tell all the world – that was an emphatic command to all Christians (Mark 16:15). Do you understand that?! I hear something like this all the time: “I don’t have the gift of preaching” or “I’m not called to speak to people about Jesus.” We’ve mistaken our discomfort for feeling like we are not called, but that’s not the case. It’s fine if you don’t want to tell others about Jesus but you can’t do that and call yourself a follower of Christ. You don’t get to walk into the pizza place down the street and demand a paycheck, right?
“Do you work here?”
“Then I’m not giving you a paycheck.”
Jesus asks us, “Do you work here?” He doesn’t ask, “Do you tell people you work here?” He asks, “Do you work here?” “Do You bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
I believe too many of our pastors let people off the hook nowadays. We say you can just be a missionary in your own backyard. Yes, that’s true for some but sadly most people use it as an excuse, ignoring Jesus’ call then live an uneventful life never mentioning the name of Jesus outside of church, if they even go to church.
I’m calling you out. 1. Jesus commanded you to lovingly tell others about him. Period. 2. Jesus may have told you to drop everything and move to the other side of the world to tell people about Him. You don’t have to be Saint Patrick, be you, but recognize the same Holy Spirit that allowed Saint Patrick to be a slave and then moved him out of his comfort zone, moves you today. As Jesus said, “Go!”
Source 4: A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang & Randy Peterson, The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History, Christian History Institute, Fleming H. Revell (a division of Baker Book House Company, 1991, 1998, pp. 47-48.