Should Christians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Pinches if you aren’t wearing green.

Corned beef and cabbage.

Three-leaf clovers.

We recognize the Irish-themed decorations every March, but what is St. Patrick’s Day really about?

Most St. Patrick’s Day traditions are less about the person and more about celebrations of Irish-American immigrants in the late 1700s (via National Geographic).

St. Patrick was a real man who lived around AD 400, but the folklore we  hear doesn’t tell the whole story. His life wasn’t about green beer or driving snakes from Ireland, but radical love and faith.

Moving past the modern traditions, we can see what really happened in St. Patrick’s life and why it matters to us today.

Four Unexpected Lessons From The Real St. Patrick

1. We can make it through hard times.

Even when we face the most difficult times, we can survive because we’re never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

When St. Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped by pirates and became a slave to Druids, a violent tribal cult in Ireland. Rather than fighting back, he learned to pray and his faith grew, even while tending sheep in the rugged cold. Records of St. Patrick’s life show that he chose to trust God every day instead of seeking revenge against his captors.

2. God invites us to do risky, uncomfortable things.

One day, after six years of captivity in Ireland, God told St. Patrick about a way off the island. St. Patrick boarded a ship and returned home. Years later, after learning more about the Bible and becoming a leader in the church, St. Patrick heard God tell him to return to Ireland and tell people about Jesus.

Just like Patrick listened to God leading him to different places and different tasks, we can listen to God and do what He says (James 1:22). When God calls us to something He walks alongside us, no matter how uncomfortable or impossible it seems (Micah 6:8).

Jesus’ love is so radical that it forgives offenders and welcomes enemies.

3. Grace changes enemies into opportunities for radical love.

St. Patrick escaped the oppressive slavery of the Druids, but he chose to return to Ireland to share the message of Jesus with them.

When God brings us through a difficult experience, we learn to accept His incredible love and extend that same love to everyone. We were all enemies of God because of our sins, but Jesus loves us even when we rebel against Him (Romans 5:10).  Jesus’ love is so radical that it forgives offenders and welcomes enemies.

4. God can use anyone — even you.

St. Patrick wasn’t born a Christian superhero who rose to fame and changed his country. He wasn’t even Irish. He grew up in a wealthy British family and had no interest in Christianity until he was older.

No matter where you’re from or what you have or haven’t done, God can work through you to do something amazing (Philippians 2:13). God changes unlikely people into unexpected leaders.

Who needs the luck of the Irish when we have a God who can use anybody to continue a movement that affects everybody?

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