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Crosfigell

Step Up, Speak Out

It's the way to change things.

And I would not have chosen to speak as harshly and sternly as I must; but the zeal of God compels me, and Christ's truth urges me, for love of my neighbours and children on whose behalf I gave up my parents and my homeland, and my very life until death.

  - Patrick, Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus, Irish, 5th century[1]

When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

  - John 2.15

What follows Patrick’s opening explanation, cited above, is a blistering letter against one Coroticus, a Pictish chieftain who claimed to be a Christian, but whose soldiers had just barged in on a service of baptism, killed a few people in attendance, and hauled off many of the new believers into slavery.

Doubtless, they invoked some “right of kings” or other such familiar justification for their actions, but there was nothing Christian about what they’d done, and Patrick was determined to let them know it and set things right.

Upon hearing of the situation, almost immediately after it occurred, Patrick sent two priests to demand the release of the prisoners. Coroticus’ men laughed them to scorn and continued to make their way back to their homeland.

In response, Patrick wrote a letter of excommunication, condemning the savage act and the heartless men who committed it, consigning them to hell if they did not repent and do what was right before the Lord, and warning all who read his letter to give those wretched false believers no aid, comfort, or assistance of any kind.

He then sent copies of his Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus to all the villages in the path of the retreating soldiers. We don’t know what resulted from this bold initiative, except for this:

Patrick has his own holiday, and you never heard of Coroticus until today.

There is a time, in building the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, to stand up to the brutes, buffoons, bullies, braggarts, and bozos who may be posing as leaders in our society or even in the church, yet whose works and ways are undermining the culture, fraying our social bonds, and even leading our churches into captivity.

We should not be silent about the lies, half-truths, and deceptive schemes of our political, social, and cultural elite. But they may be a little remote for us to stand up and speak out about their ways. Our fellow believers, on the other hand, are right around us.

Whenever we or our fellow believers substitute worldly measures for the plain teaching of Scripture, when we fail to pursue a vision for the Kingdom or to lead others into that vision, or when we prefer the status quo to healthy, growing churches, we are as harmful to the wellbeing of our churches as Coroticus and his soldiers.

Jesus understood this as well. He was enraged at the way the house of God had become commercialized. Money-making, head-counting, program-maintaining, and keeping the crowds happy had replaced prayer and humility before the Lord.

Jesus literally beat the hell out of those sorry excuses for the people of God, just as Patrick would do with his words against Coroticus and his thugs.

There is a time for stepping up and speaking out to those who think they are above the plain words of Scripture because their “proven methods” for “growing the church” have led to big congregations and fat budgets – but little in the way of real disciples or any visible manifestations of the Kingdom of God.

Of course, the whip of cords we must use will be serious and persistent questions about where we’re going, why we do what we do, and why there isn’t more of vital Kingdom living in evidence among us. We will be firm and, yes, critical, but only according to the righteous judgment Jesus commends (Jn. 7.24). But we will speak out, persistently and pointedly, until we begin to witness a turn for the Kingdom in our leaders and our churches.

And we will always begin with the log in our own eye before we raise questions about the speck in someone else’s.

If we love God’s people and are zealous for His house, we may need to step up and speak out some time, telling the truth in love, so that the Word of God can have its convicting and correcting effects.

For Reflection
1. Why are Christians sometimes reluctant to ask questions or raise issues with church leaders?

2. At all times we must speak the truth in love (Eph. 4.15). Why?

Psalm 74.10, 11, 22, 23 (Rockingham Old: O Lord Most High, with All My Heart)
How long, O Lord, must they prevail and mock and spurn Your holy Name?
Why stay Your hand? Deploy it now, and bring Your foes to lasting shame!

Arise, O God, and plead Your cause! See how the fools reproach Your Name.
Their voices quell, their uproar still, who Your majestic grace defame.

Lord, let me not remain silent whenever Your Word is compromised, whether in the world or in the Church. Help me instead to…

The Church Captive

Paul spoke out against the “captivity” of the Corinthian Church. Many church leaders today are saying that our churches are captive to misguided affections and priorities. Our book, The Church Captive, explains more fully. Order your free copy by clicking here.

Thank You
We pray that, if Crosfigell ministers to you, you’ll consider sharing with us in the financial support of our ministry. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore
Principal
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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.

 

[1] Da Paor, p. 109.

T.M. Moore

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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