On the 17th of March we are invited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. But should we? I mean, as Jesus-followers, should we show that we are participating in the day?
Personally, I think St. Patrick is in the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11-12). Assuming that the 1,500 year old stories are mostly true, Patrick was a faithful preacher, teacher, writer, evangelist and apologist for Jesus. It is said that in his 40 years of ministry, he converted thousands of souls, built churches, wrote confessions, and lived a life imitating our Lord. Oh, that I could begin to measure up to such a servant of God!
One thing I might not encourage is his (supposed) use of the 3-leaf clover as an illustration or explanation for the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Why not? Because as well meaning as the image is, it is misleading and incorrect.
In a humorous take on the subject, a video titled, “St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies” (hovering at about 1.5 million views as of this article) explains that there are actually a whole bunch of bad analogies for the Trinity, and among them is the shamrock. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw)
When you watch the video, you’ll hear terms (heresies, actually) like Adoptionism, Modalism, Arianism, and Partialism. But honestly - who’s ever heard of these and who really cares, right? What’s this got to do with my life right now?
I’m glad you asked! There’s two ways this matters to you (and all of us) right now. The first way this matters is because of a trap of the devil called “brain strain”. We all face this trap; sometimes we call it “information overload”. There is so much we’re asked to think about, remember, dissect, analyze, judge, and respond to that our nervous system cries out, “Stop! We can’t take the brain strain anymore!” So we naturally look for a simple, or automatic, way of making our way through the moment.
Satan tries to take advantage of this when it comes to God, religion, faith, and the Bible. Driving us nearly to despair with minutia and triviality, we cry out for relief and Satan happily guides us to easier - but fatally wrong - understandings. And that’s where those terms/heresies originate. Some people tried to explain the details of God’s divine nature and ended up with false teachings.
The other way this matters to us is because we were created with a mind that naturally seeks after God. But - and this is really important - we do not have a mind that can understand God. Our goal is to continually find God, enjoy Him, and celebrate his majesty. When we find God we meet three persons. At the same time we meet one God. In this moment we have a choice, and it is a choice that molds our children and entire generations! We can either try to explain God (Danger: Brain Strain!!) or we can embrace the mystery that is our God.
It’s perfectly okay to believe that God is so wonderful and powerful and awesome that we will never be able to put our arms around him. In his grace and love God wraps us up in his arms all the time.
This St. Patrick’s Day, maybe the best green we can wear is something that says, “1G3P”. What this means may at first be a mystery to people but what an easy way to start a conversation about God!