On Saturday, March 17th, our culture honors a great man, Patrick of Ireland. Many will act Irish that day, eat corned beef and cabbage and drink a good Irish stout.
Not much is known about Patrick, though. For instance, there is debate about when he lived. He most likely lived in the 400's, but exactly when, that's anyone's guess.
We do have a few definite stories about him. We know that when he was 16 he was captured in Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. He eventually escaped and returned home. Later in his life he became a bishop, but gave it up so that he could go back to Ireland and share the gospel.
We can learn so much from Patrick as believers. We would do well to think not as church members but as missionaries. Patrick left a prominent role as a church member to become a missionary. He spent more time trying to figure out how to share the gospel to the outside culture than how he would bless those that go to church. Both are important, but I think we have swayed too far to the church member side. What might happen if we looked at our neighborhoods as a mission field?
Another point I think we can learn is how we deal with our culture. Patrick went back into the culture that kidnapped and enslaved him. He didn't run from it but went back to bring God's good news to it.
Let's face it, we live in a culture that does not hold to Christian values. Every day it seems to get worse. But instead of running from it and bemoaning it, let's accept the culture for what it is and our diminished role in it. And please, above all, let's spend our time trying to figure out the best way to bring the good news to this culture and be diligent in doing it.
This Saturday I am going to find a way to have an Irish beer with old friends and hopefully some new ones as well.