The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (15)
If we all choose to be humble and poor for Christ’s sake, Who for our sakes became poor though He was rich, then with our various lusts laid aside and mortal cares cast out from the sinful clay...all the sons of God shall mutually enjoy between themselves a true peace and entire charity, by the likeness of their characters and the agreement of their single will.
- Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, 7th century
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
- 2 Corinthians 8.9
Irish missionaries like Columbanus knew when they accepted their call that they would be facing lives of hardship, deprivation, and struggle. But they also knew that, in some degree, enduring tribulation is simply what it means to seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God (Jn. 16.33; Acts 14.22; Rev. 1.9).
So they left their relatively comfortable surroundings – in Columbanus’ case, teaching at the monastery in Bangor, Ireland – to carry the Gospel to other places.
Columbanus and his team arrived in Gaul (France) in 585 AD. There were plenty of ministers in Gaul at the time, but they were too busy maintaining the status quoto do the work of making disciples. The churches were not growing, but just about everybody was a “Christian”. What more could these pastors want?
Columbanus and his friends acquired a ruined property and began to work the land. They went forth from their compound to preach, teach, and do many good works, and soon they began to attract large numbers of Gaul’s brightest and most energetic young people, who were seeking to know and follow Jesus.
As you might imagine, this sudden appearing of Kingdom vitality among the people of Gaul was not exactly welcomed by the keepers of the status quo.
In our excerpt, Columbanus was writing to Catholic bishops in Gaul who resented his presence and wanted him to come to a synod so they could either “set him straight” or condemn him. They resented him because he was doing what they should have been doing but weren’t – preaching the Gospel and establishing communities of faith.
Columbanus declined to attend their meeting.
The bishops and priests of Gaul had become comfortable enjoying the favor of local rulers and the perks of life at court. They were too busy enjoying their leisure to be bothered by anything like the work of ministry. Columbanus had no wealth of his own, yet he knew that the riches of the world could be a powerful distraction from the work of the Lord. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again so that we might be made rich in spiritual blessings, especially that of eternal life beginning now – the glorious privilege of knowing God. We will never know how great a boon this is until we remove every obstacle to the full enjoyment of it, and that includes any fleshly lusts or possessions that keep us from seeking the Lord.
Columbanus could envision a Church of true disciples, which was both an outpost and sign of the Kingdom of God – a community in which no one claimed that anything was his own, and all shared freely of their resources and abilities to aid in furthering the mission of Christ (cf. Acts 4.32-37). He could envision this because it’s what he had known in Ireland, as well as what he achieved at Annegray and Luxeuil in Gaul and again at Bobbio, in Northern Italy.
When the love of Christ and the riches of His Kingdom are our primary aim and attainment, everything else that matters will find its proper place in our lives. Until that becomes the case, however, we’re always just a wrong turn away from idolatry. We may fancy ourselves sincere believers, but if we prefer the Lord to keep us comfortable and at ease, rather than to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him in the work of disciple-making, we may be in for a rude awakening.
Neither Jesus nor Columbanus had time for pastors and church leaders who would not enter the Kingdom or lead others into it (cf. Matt. 23.13). Should we?
The true riches of eternal life and joyous fellowship with the saints can only be realized when the false riches of the world have been assigned their proper place in our lives. We spend a lot of time and exhaust a good deal of energy laboring to secure the riches of this world. What about the riches of Christ and His Kingdom?
Psalm 49.10-12, 15 (Sagina: And Can It Be?)
See how the wise and senseless die, and leave to others all their gold.
Vainly forever they longed and hoped to have their names and glories told.
Man in his pomp will not endure; like any beast his end is sure.
My God redeems my soul from hell!
His grace and mercy let me tell!
Lord, like Patrick and Columbanus, let me reject all the world’s glory for Your sake and for the sake of Your Word, and let me rejoice in whatever hardships I must endure in the Name of King Jesus, so that….
Praying for revival
Are you praying regularly for revival? Are you meeting with others to seek the mercy of the Lord for revival? We want to encourage you to bring prayer for revival into your personal prayers and your various Christian groups. And we also want you to consider starting a prayer group focused exclusively on seeking the Lord for revival.
To these ends, our book Restore Us! can tell you why we need revival, and how to begin praying for it daily in your own prayers. It will also guide you in putting together a revival prayer group of your own, and provides prayer guides, based on the psalms, to lead you during that time. Order your copy of Restore Us! by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Walker, p. 15.