Matthew 5:43-45- “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Many heroes of the faith have given me encouragement over the years – Elizabeth Elliot bravely ventured into the village of Auca Indians who had killed her husband. When she shared Christ with them and they saw her passion and courage, they knew there must be something powerful in the God she served and the whole village came to know Jesus. Gladys Aylward led hundreds of children to safety in occupied China during WWII. Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame, left fame and fortune to re-enter the mission field and died in a concentration camp in Japan.
But few are as brave and inspiring as St. Patrick. He spent six years as a slave in Ireland before escaping back to his home in England. When he became a priest, though, he realized God was calling him back to the land of his captivity. Those were the people who most needed to hear about hope and freedom through Jesus Christ. Patrick countered the prevalent Druid religion of the region and taught locals using objects they could understand. The most famous is his use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity. Just as the shamrock has three equal leaves to form one shamrock, the Trinity has three equal persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who make One God.
My question for you today is, are you prepared to love your enemies as St. Patrick did? Are you willing to lay down your life not just for your friends but for those who challenge you and everything you stand for? Are you willing to stand up for Jesus Christ even if it could cost you your life?
I leave you with St. Patrick’s Prayer:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Rev. Carolyn Poteet