Many were converted then, by the preaching of the holy man, and turning to the learning and faith of Christ, were baptized by him. Others, who were already baptized but still lived in the heathenish unbelief, like a good shepherd, he again led by his words to the faith and into the bosom of the church.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
Thus it is agreed that he who dwells amongst deceivers ought to be concerned, as a man who will not escape, unless he shuns them and carefully conducts himself well. How shall we shun the world, which we ought not to love, when we are in the world and are taught to die to it, and yet on the contrary fold to our breasts with a sort of envious lust that world which we ought to have spurned as it were beneath our feet?
- Columbanus, Sermon III
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
- 1 John 2.15-17
Settled into their new accommodations at Maguntiacum, Columbanus and his monks resumed their work. On one occasion, Columbanus, as he was walking among the Swabian people, encountered a company who were carrying a large cask of beer, which they intended to offer to a pagan deity. Columbanus approached and inquired concerning their intentions, whereupon, through a miracle, the cask was destroyed, and the contents spilled and lost.
That got the Swabians’ attention, and they listened as Columbanus reproached them for their unbelief and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus, calling his listeners to repent and believe the Gospel. Jonas records the results of this incident in the quote above.
The shepherds of God’s flock are appointed to proclaim the Good News to the lost and saved alike. That the lost need the Gospel goes without saying. But because believers, neglecting their great salvation, can drift into worldly ways (Heb. 2.1-3), we need to hear the Gospel daily, listening as the Lord reveals the glories of Jesus in His Word, and repenting of our sins as the Spirit leads.
As in Columbanus’ day, so today, the world is suffused with various forms and expressions of unbelief. If we neglect the Word of God, we are likely to become caught up in pagan ways, perhaps even without recognizing this is so. Those Swabian believers, who were going along with their unbelieving neighbors to make an offering to Woden, probably thought nothing of it. They show us just how much the churches of Columbanus’ day had drifted from the true faith and were failing in the work of making disciples.
Columbanus “reproved” the lost and the believers among them, and called them to desist from their unbelieving ways and turn to the Lord Jesus. We get the sense from Jonas’ report that Columbanus’ preaching had an immediate impact, and that he labored among these people for some time, like a good shepherd, to strengthen the Lord’s flock in that place.
All believers are called to shepherd their fellow Christians and to be witnesses to the lost. By being refreshed in the Gospel daily, we will have the resources we require to do the work of our Personal Mission Field, bringing the Gospel to the lost and saved alike.
Columbanus expected lost people to repent at the preaching of the Gospel. He expected those who were already believers to examine themselves, lay aside any worldly ways, and be renewed in their walk with and work for the Lord. Our Good Shepherd expects the same of us, and He has appointed us, like Columbanus, to proclaim the Good News of His forgiveness, love, and new life to everyone in our life sphere.
Are you ready for this? Are you hearing the Gospel anew every day? Praying for the people in your Personal Mission Field? Preparing yourself with an encouraging word of witness, for the lost and the believers to whom the Lord sends you each day? The power and joy of the Gospel overflow from within us as we follow our Good Shepherd, and good shepherds like Columbanus, in faithful obedience to and ministry of the Good News. Love the Lord and your calling, and not the fleeting pleasures of this world; and God will honor your work of shepherding like He did that of Columbanus.
Psalm 67.1-3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O bless us, Savior, by Your grace,
And shine upon us with Your face,
That we Your way may loud proclaim
And tell to all the earth Your fame!
Refrain v. 3 (5)
Let all the peoples praise You, Lord,
Rejoicing in Your holy Word!
Rejoicing in Your holy Word!
Search me, O Good Shepherd, and cleanse me of every worldly way or inclination, and prepare me today so that I…
The Gospel of the Kingdom
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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.
Like the Good Shepherd
- T.M. Moore
- January 15, 2019
We are all called to the work of shepherding.
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.