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To Scorn This World

Love God, not the world.

The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (5)

Who can satisfy God in the last times,
when the noble rules of truth have been changed,
save for those who scorn this present world?

  - Colum Cille, Altus Prosator, Irish, 6th century[1]

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

How do we know if we love God? And how do we know if our lives “satisfy” Him?

John and Colum give us a simple test: What is our attitude toward the things and ways of the world? Do we treasure these more than the things and ways of God? What does the time of our lives demonstrate about our priorities and true concerns? In these last times, when the noble rules of truth are everywhere being set aside, how do we show that love for God is that above all else which satisfies Him, and characterizes us?

We cannot love God and the world (Jms. 4.4). The Irish peregrini of the Celtic Revival understood this, and they willingly gave up the ways of the world for a Kingdom not of this world. If we find that our thoughts, affections, strength, and time are more devoted to accumulating things or indulging our whims; if the content of our speech mirrors that of those who do not know the Lord; and if our ways of relating to others are based on self-interest rather than self-denying service, then we have surely chosen to follow a god, but not the God of Scripture.

We scorn the ways of Christ and His Kingdom when we march in lockstep with the ways of the world. We can be certain that such conduct does not satisfy what God intends for us (1 Cor. 16.22).

Why did so many young Irish men, like Colum Cille, go on peregrinatio pro Cristo? What moved them to leave the comforts of home and family to take up lives of deprivation and want, hardship and uncertainty? Did they choose deliberately to be miserable? Or did they long for some more lasting fulfillment and more permanent joy?

Were they more eager to satisfy God than to be satisfied by the ways of the world?

Colum and the other peregrini knew that loving God makes us poor toward the world and rich in the ways of faith. Where Christ reigns supreme in the heart and life of a person, dramatic, rightside-up changes will be in evidence (Acts 17.1-9). Seeking the Kingdom will be our consuming passion. The power of the Kingdom will be at work within us, transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 3.12-18; Eph. 4.17-24). We will live our lives in an envelope of peace and good will.

Loving God, we will be ruled by Him, for His glory, unto the progress of His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven. And we will not become bogged down in the priorities and practices of our materialistic and narcissistic age. We will seek to satisfy God rather than our selfish lusts. And thus we will show that we have truly come to know the truth that sets us free from base desires.

Of course, we will attend to our bodily needs, and those of our loved ones. Irish monks like Colum and his associates took great care to ensure that everyone in their charge had their daily bread, as well as clothing and shelter. But their greater concern was the pursuit of that unseen Kingdom and the treasure in heaven it represents.

This is a matter for daily, even moment-by-moment vigilance over how we use the time of our lives (Eph. 5.15-17; Ps. 90.12).

Do you love God? Is it evident by your poverty toward the world, riches in faith, and fruit of the Kingdom?

Amid the shifting sands of what passes for truth in our postmodern world, our neighbors need to see living examples of self-denial and generosity, steadfast love and faithfulness, commitment to God and His Word, and freedom from the distractions and diversions of our materialistic age.

Will they see such an example in you today?

For Reflection
1. We are called to use the world and everything in it to glorify God. How can you know when you’re doing this?

2. How will you arrange the time of your life today to express your love for God?

Psalm 138.1-3 (Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
I will give You thanks and praise You, God of gods, with all my heart.
I will bow before Your temple, grateful praise to You impart.
For Your Name and for Your glory, You have magnified Your Word!

Lord, my love of the world has fooled, drowned, deceived, and troubled me. Rescue me from this love, and teach me to… (Adapted from Litany of Confession)

The Disciplined Life

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Looking to Jesus
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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] Carey, p. 49.

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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