Stranger in a strange land

Satan never stops trying to steal our stuff. He has managed to turn Christmas into a frenzy of commercialism and Easter into nothing more than a spring festival with green plastic grass, bunnies, and chocolate eggs. And somehow he managed to take the heroic story of Patrick and turn it into an excuse to drink a lot and pretend to be Irish.

The truth is that Patrick was British. Kidnapped by Irish raiders, he was forced to work as a shepherd in Ireland. He escaped, but chose to return and made it his life’s work to convert the wild Celts to Christianity. His story is an echo of Joseph, whose resentful brothers sold him as a slave. “When the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).

Joseph suffered many indignities, the worst of which was prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But he came to love his adopted country and eventually rose to become chief assistant to the pharaoh. His wise leadership averted famine in the Near East.

This St. Patrick’s Day you may choose to make merry with friends, wear some green, dance to some great music, and laugh a lot. But I hope you will also take a moment to remember heroes like Joseph and Patrick who chose to love their enemies and bring them God’s mercy.

Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.

 

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