During his stay in Milan, [Columbanus] resolved to attack the errors of the heretics, that is, the Arian perfidy, which he wanted to cut out and exterminate with the cauterizing knife of the Scriptures. And he composed an excellent and learned work against them.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban, Italian, 7th century
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
- Matthew 6.34
Wherever he went in his journey for the Lord, Columbanus found himself in the middle of controversy. Every day brought new troubles, and every trouble brought new opportunities to further the Kingdom of God.
In Gaul (France), he was harassed by worldly bishops, who hated him for his boldness and for the fact that thousands fled to him for instruction in the Gospel.
There, too, he was opposed and oppressed by the royal court, because he would not – unlike those same bishops – wink at their sinful ways.
When, having been run out of Gaul, he finally made it to Italy, Arianism – the heresy condemned by the Council of Nicea in 325 – was still widespread. This is because the Roman Empire in the West was still ruled by Gothic emperors of one tribal group or another, who, when they invaded Italy in the 5th century, had already been converted to Arianism by the missionary, Ulfilas, late in the 4th century.
These were the same rulers who brutally murdered Boethius, that great Christian thinker and statesman, in the generation before Columbanus.
The point is simply that Columbanus knew he didn’t have to go here or there or yonder to find some enemy of the Gospel to confront. Trouble confronted him every day, right where he was, wherever he was.
He was extremely adept, however, at preparing himself for battle and at engaging the offenders at the highest possible level (trusting, no doubt, in the curative powers of spiritual “trickle-down”).
Columbanus understood that the life of faith is a struggle, and that there are always enemies to be engaged, exposed, and subdued, whether they be hypocrites, power-brokers, or false teachers, or the sin that continues stubbornly in our own souls. To prevail in this life, we need to be disciplined in the ways of the Lord – His Word, prayer, and walking in the Spirit.
We’ve all heard the cliché advising us to “grow where you’re planted.” The Christian, however, should take up the challenge to “fight where you stand” against whatever enemies of the Gospel may occupy his sphere of influence. We won’t grow in the Personal Mission Field to which the Lord sends us if we don’t make up our minds each day to seek and struggle for the Kingdom there.
Ignorance? Hostility? False teaching? Sin and hypocrisy? Hardship and setbacks? Whatever it may be, and whether it be in us or inflicted upon us, let us prepare daily to fight the good fight, trusting the Lord to use us as agents of grace and truth against the evil of the day, every day. “To the Law and the testimony!” “Call unto Me…” These are the disciplines that can help us fight where we stand.
Don’t go looking for trouble, friends. Be patient and be faithful; trouble will find you.
1. How do you expect to be troubled or set upon by the world, the flesh, and the devil today?
2. How do you prepare each morning to make sure you will prevail in the struggle to further Christ’s rule of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit?
Psalm 12.5-7 (Hamburg: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
Rise up, O Lord, and rescue all Your precious children, sore distressed.
Save those who faithfully on You call; grant them deliv’rance, peace, and rest.
Your words are pure and proven true, like silver seven times refined;
You will preserve Your Word ever new, and keep the heart to You inclined.
Use me, O Lord, to stand for truth and to fight for the Gospel of our Lord today as I…
Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Because most of what we do in life is small stuff. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, or that the small stuff of our lives can’t provide opportunities for progress in Christ and His Kingdom. Our book, Small Stuff, shows you why the Gospel is so great – because it transforms all the small stuff of our lives! Order your free copy by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore
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.
 Jonas, p. 98.