In light of March 17th - commonly known as St Patrick's Day - I thought I would blog some thoughts about why I have always appreciated the day. By the way, Kermit has nothing to do with this blog, but I love the Muppets and he is green.
Patrick was born in Roman Britain. When he was about sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, working in the north and west of the island. Legend credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'. St. Patrick died in 493, and by the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland.
Taken as a slave into Ireland, much like Joseph into Egypt, St Patrick eventually became a catalyst for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is a man who fell in love with his captors. Patrick was a slave for 6 years before he escaped to study Christianity and return with the good news. Its interesting how God turns slavery into salvation.
Wikipedia describes Stockholm syndrome as a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.
While it may be a stretch to call St Patrick's passion for Ireland, Stockholm Syndrome; you can see the theme of this kind of servanthood throughout scripture. Its a theme in the Christian walk. Paul tells us in Colossians that slaves are to obey their masters with a sincere heart as if they were working for the Lord.
I had a friend who likes to say that
being a Christian doesn't mean that you are supposed to just lie down and take abuseBut yet, almost every man of faith that has done significant things for the kingdom of God endured abuse and from that place God birthed change.
Look at the life of Daniel: stolen away from his family(who were likely killed) and made to accept a completely different way of life. - and God took this 'hostage' and rocked a pagan kingdom. The same with Joseph
Most importantly we can see this trait in the instigator of salvation: Jesus. Jesus willing became a hostage to humanity. He became a servant to lead those he served into salvation.
So if you find yourself in a place where you feel used and abused, mistreated or unappreciated - I think that we can all learn from these men of faith. Being mistreated and under-appreciated comes with the territory of following Jesus. This is the kind of lifestyle that changes nations - literally. Here is a toast(of something green:) to becoming a church that would love and serve in the face of mistreatment rather than try to defend ourselves or our perceived righteousness.