Party Like It’s 461
I think St. Patrick’s philosophy of ministry (and philosophy of life) could be summed up as radical hospitality. He had a very Christocentric understanding of mission: go, welcome, discern, ask questions, eat together, invite people into a relationship, and through it all – share your love for God with them. Jesus and Patrick both attended more parties than planned services. I love that! I believe that! I bet you do too!
Which brings me to a question my wife asked me after my last post. “Why aren’t we living more like that?” [Why aren’t more Christians living like that?]
- It’s hard – It is much easier for me to tell old stories than to live out new ones.
- It’s risky – Every invitation is an opportunity for rejection.
- It’s inconvenient – Contextualizing is hard. Trying to understand someone else’s culture will cause me to wrestle with why I believe and do certain things. And sometimes I just don’t want to.
- It’s time consuming – I can be selfish with my time. True discipleship takes a long time…far more than a 12 week class or a few sermon series.
But today, in some corners of Christendom, the conversation is similar to one that raged in Patrick’s day. There are bold declarations about who has been reached, who is reachable, and who is barbarian. Lines in the sand are being drawn by self appointed guardians of orthodoxy. The label “heretic” is being tossed about frighteningly freely. Some are holding on to methods that are no longer applicable and they even point to their declining numbers and shrinking impact as evidence of their righteousness.
Patrick is one of my heros because he didn’t stick around to play that game. He didn’t stay in the civilized world so his parish could have a greater market share of the already convinced. He knew there were too many that had been written off and therefore not yet heard that God loves and pursues them. And because he went, he welcomed, he conversed, he ate…Ireland went from the most barbaric arm of the far reaching Roman church to the most Christian. All during some of the darkest days for the civilized church back in Rome. God used Patrick’s mission and method to save Christianity in the west.
I hope you share my conviction and urgency. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10:14-15 MSG) We’ve been commissioned to “go and make,” not “hope they come and see.”
Commit with me to doing the hard work, taking the risk, being inconvenienced, investing the time, and partying like it’s 461AD.