Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick: the Hardcore Missionary of Ireland

Not hardcore.
Image found here.
All the people who go to parades, march in kilts, or drink a ton of beer on St. Patrick's Day are not that impressive. Anyone can watch a parade. Anyone can wear a kilt. Anyone can drink a bunch of beer (although it's not recommended).

Despite popular opinion, these people aren't all that hardcore.

Actually, they're not hardcore at all.

St. Patrick, however, was. He's about as hardcore as they come.

A few facts about St. Patrick that make his current fame and the stories that surround him a bit strange (and inaccurate):

  • He wasn't actually Irish; he was originally British.
  • He wasn't actually Catholic; he became a Christian in his teens.
  • He didn't wear green or drink beer. (Okay, I'm making that one up. I actually don't know if he wore green or drank beer.)

Ultra hardcore.
Image found here
At age 16, Patrick was kidnapped by barbarian Irishmen and was a slave to them for six years. During this time, he became a Christian and prayed throughout the day. He heard a voice one night, the voice of God, telling him to escape -- a ship was waiting on him. He traveled 200 miles and sure enough, he joined a crew and was ready to sail home. The whole crew almost died of starvation while on their journey. Patrick encouraged them to put their faith in God and shortly after they stumbled across some wild boar. The group put their faith in Patrick's God after this incident. 

Patrick did return home, alive and well. After six years of captivity, it would have been easy for Patrick to assume that he had been served more than his fair share of heartache. He had experienced enough troubles and was now ready for an easy life at home. God came to Patrick again, however, with a vision of all the Irishmen Patrick had left behind. The Irish didn't know Christ. They didn't know God. And God was telling Patrick to go back to the land of his captors and share the Good News with them. 

How difficult would that be? Return to the land of your enemies in order to try to save them from eternal damnation and help guide them into an understanding of a loving and forgiving God? These were pagans, for crying out loud! Barbarians! Crazy men! The could kill Patrick! 

But he did it anyway. He returned to Ireland to preach and share. Over the next 29 years Patrick planted 300 churches in Ireland and baptized at least 120,000 Irish. 

What a legacy.

And how do we celebrate?

"Another beer, please." 

Patrick really was hardcore. I think it's awesome that we celebrate him, but maybe we should go about doing it a different way:

  • Teach your kids about Patrick and the great things he accomplished in Ireland
  • Pray with your family for missionaries in the world today
  • Pray for people in today's world who might be like the Irish barbarians of the 400's to come to an understanding of Christ
  • Consider what enemy you have that may need to hear about Christ. Consider forgiving them and going to them with the Good News
However you decide to celebrate, just remember the person we're celebrating: not a Catholic saint, but a Christian missionary who dedicated his life to telling others about Christ. 

Read more details about Patrick's life here

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