For those of you that didn’t realize it, today is St. Patrick’s Day. What does that mean?
Well, if you grew up in the Southern US, it means you wear green and maybe pretend you’re Irish. Other places, though, it means other things. For some, it’s a much more important day. Why?
Because they know who St. Patrick is.
Unfortunately for a lot of us Baptists, we’re not so aware. You see, once upon a time, Christians all fell into one of two groups: Eastern and Western. Really. It was that simple. And that division really only solidified about 1000 years ago, which is 1000 years into the existence of the church. So, anyone from the first 1000 years was a portion of a strong and shared heritage.
Then, things within Christianity got a little more complicated. Not everyone who was in charge was worth putting charge, and divisions came into place. First, the East-West split. Then, Western Christianity broke down into a spectrum of groups. One of those groups led to what we call Baptists, and then onto Southern Baptists, which I am.
In the process, we discarded a lot of the additions that had grown onto Christianity. The Reformation and its call for sola Scriptura (allowing Scripture alone to be the guide of our faith) was a great thing. However, we may have lost a few things along the way. Not things that will cost us our salvation but things that will make our walk a little tougher.
One of those things would be labeled the lives of the saints. Now, I know that we Baptists get a little tense about labeling someone a “saint.” Really, I get that. Scripture acknowledges that all of God’s people are “saints” and we’re not really in a position to exalt another person too high. I also know the process by which someone is labeled a '”saint” is one that makes us uncomfortable. Fine.
So let’s take the case of Maewyn Succat (or whatever name you want to attach) then. Here’s a young man, as best that tradition records, that was captured, held as a slave, escaped, and then went back to the people who had enslaved him---and spent his life making disciples in that land.
What have we left behind?
We’ve left the rich heritage of our faith behind. And then end result is missing something. We’re missing out on heroes and examples that we can look toward. We’re tending to build such a separation between ourselves and the people that lived out there faith in Scripture that we don’t think it’s even possible for us to live the same way.
So, a challenge for us all: let’s not let it go. We need to discard the bad but hold on to the good.