Remembering the Saints (7)
[Of St. Bairre] his inner life and his daily conversation, his lowliness, his obedience, his compassion, his sweetness, his patience and gentleness, his love and pity and readiness to forgive, his fasting and abstinence, his earnest prayer, his patient waiting, and his mind continually intent on God…
- Life of Bairre of Cork (16th century, from an earlier ms.)
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
- Luke 17.20, 21
When Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” He did not mean that the Kingdom has no effect on our lives. Just a few chapters earlier He had promised that some who were alive in His day would “see the kingdom of God” in its coming (Lk. 9.27). Where the Kingdom has come, the nature and character of the Kingdom become visible. But not in the ways we might expect of a human kingdom, with fanfares and parades and speeches and honoring all the most important people.
The Kingdom of God comes to expression from within those in whom the Spirit of God dwells, for the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18). The great saints of the Celtic Revival were often cited as being the kind of people in whom the Spirit of God was a living and active Presence to bring the rule of Christ to bear on their souls and lives.
This was the case with Bairre of Cork, a near-contemporary of Patrick during the late 5th century. Both his “inner life” and “his daily conversation” gave evidence of the rule of King Jesus. The inner life refers to the disposition of his soul – mind, heart, and conscience; while his daily conversation is not just what he talked about but how he lived. The brief catalog of his inner and outer life that follows in the quote above lists traits that enlarge on the ideas of righteousness, peace, and joy. This, in the first instance, is what we should expect as the evidence that King Jesus has established His rule in us and is beginning to work it out through us.
How does one arrive at this inward experience of the Kingdom of God? It takes discipline – “fasting and abstinence” together with “earnest prayer”, “patient waiting”, and a “mind continually intent on God”. And while this excerpt from the Life of Bairre of Cork does not mention time in the Word of God, Bairre certainly understood the importance of that, as is indicated elsewhere in this account.
The Lord Jesus is about the business of realizing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But that Kingdom comes according to an order of operations: first within those who believe, then through them into their world, their Personal Mission Field (cf. Eph. 4.7-10). The more we concentrate on submitting our thoughts, affections, and priorities to Christ and His rule, the more those characteristics of righteousness, peace, and joy will come to fruition in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Then people will see the Kingdom in us, not in pomp and privilege, but in the power of lowliness, humility, compassion, service, and hope (Mk. 10.42-45; 1 Pet. 3.15). Because the more we meditate on Jesus, the more His mind takes over ours, so that we think, plan, and act as He would. The more we wait on Jesus, communing with Him in our heart, the more His heart of compassion, courage, and kindness will characterize ours. And the more intent we are on seeing God and the glory which is in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4.6), the more our values and priorities will look like His. And the more His Kingdom will rise and flourish within us to overflow from us and touch the people around us day by day (Jn. 7.37-39).
Is the Kingdom coming within you? Let the Lord search your inner person (Ps. 139.23, 24). What does He discover to you there? How can you bring your inner life – your soul in all its component parts – more into line with the character of His Kingdom? The more you work at this, the more the Spirit will use your diligence to transform you into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
And you can be sure that, as that happens, the people around you will see the Kingdom of God in no uncertain terms, just as the people around Bairre of Cork saw it in him.
1. How can you tell that the Kingdom of God is coming within you at this time?
2. How do you expect the rule of King Jesus to flow out to others today?
Sing Psalm 46.4, 5.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God’s everlasting, joyous grace
gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved;
when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels
for His beloved, chosen race.
Lord Jesus, rule in my soul! Bring Your Kingdom to my inner person! Help me to bear Kingdom fruit within so that…
Resources about Celtic Christians
To learn more about the Celtic Revival, order a free PDF copy of our book, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction, by clicking here. You might also order a free copy of our book, The Legacy of Patrick, by clicking here. For longer excerpts of writings from the Celtic Revival, visit our Celtic Legacy webpage by clicking here. And, in the historical theology installments of our InVerse Theology Project, we’re exploring saints’ lives in more detail. You can begin listening by clicking here (scroll through to find more).
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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.
 Plummer, p. 19