In recent years, gospel centered Christians have done an excellent job of returning to the true story of St. Patrick. To celebrate this day with only parades and drinking would be a tremendous shame. Here are a few more important things to think about on St. Patrick's day than leprechauns and alcohol.
1. God speaks most clearly in the midst of suffering
As a boy, Patrick’s home was attacked and he was taken captive into slavery. It is likely that he endured sufferings beyond what most of us can imagine during that time. Through his immense suffering and pain, God began to reveal himself to Patrick and call him to gospel ministry. Often in the deepest suffering of our lives, God reveals himself to us simply and clearly. Sometimes it takes being in the furnace to realize that God is with you and calling you to himself. Are you in the midst of suffering? Listen for the voice of God.
2. God called Patrick out of more than one kind of slavery
Not only did God provide away out of his slavery to an Irish king, he also called him out of slavery to sin. No doubt Patrick’s time spent in physical slavery shed light on his spiritual slavery simultaneously and opened his eyes to the presence of God. Believe in Jesus Christ, turn away from your old life of sin, and you will be given true freedom.
3. The Christian life requires taking up a cross, not avoiding one
Before his return to Ireland to begin his gospel ministry, Patrick famously wrote, “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved – whatever may come my way.” He rightly understood that if he actually lived a true and authentic Christian life, murder, betrayal, and slavery were much more likely to come his way than kindness and acceptance from the masses. The Christian life is not an easy one. Throughout most of the New Testament, Jesus and Paul warn believers just how difficult this life will be. The Christian life involves taking up a cross of suffering and following Jesus, not avoiding it at all costs like most of us do.
4. Christians are called back into the darkness in order to share the light
Patrick prepared for ministry and began his journey back to Ireland to share the gospel in the dark land in which he had been enslaved. Can you imagine how difficult this must have been? Can you imagine the weight on Patrick’s heart and the memories that haunted him as he returned to the land where he was an escaped fugitive? But Patrick returned to dark and sinful Ireland with the gospel of light. Like Patrick, Christians are not called to abandon the world, but to engage it; not to put up a wall, but to put up a light so that darkness will be driven out. That light is Christ. Have you been redeemed and called out of slavery by Christ? Return to the dark world out of which you were rescued and take the light of Christ with you.
5. Serpents can be driven out
Though legend states that Patrick drove snakes out of Ireland, no such thing ever happened. BUT, through Patrick’s missionary efforts a spiritual revival broke out in Ireland and the devil’s forces were repelled by the light of Jesus Christ. No evil, no sin can stand up against the power and might of Jesus Christ. The devil wields tremendous power against those without Jesus, but against those emboldened, empowered, and called by God to spread his gospel message – not even the gates of hell can prevail.
Believers, let’s reclaim St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s make it a day of reflection and recommitment to a missionary lifestyle. Let’s make it a day of remembering a faithful man who answered God’s call and changed the spiritual landscape of a nation for centuries. Who knows what God might do through us if we recommit ourselves to living on mission and shining the light of the gospel into the surrounding darkness.