Whatever did not go against God's Word in the law of Scripture and in the New Testament, or against the consciences of the faithful, was fixed in the system of judgment by Patrick and the churches and the princes of Ireland severally.
- Anonymous, Pseudo-Historical Introduction to Senchas Mar (Irish, 9th century)
"In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and faithful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
- Acts 14.16, 17
The excerpt above is the conclusion of a little tale devised to help understand the origins of the first written laws (Senchas Mar) of Ireland. These were devised by the Irish kings and poets with the advice and counsel of Christian ministers, whose influence, it seems, had the last word in what actually became law.
The thrust of the story is to explain that some of the laws of Ireland, which seem to have pre-existed the coming of the Gospel, were included in the written code because they were not inconsistent with the Word of God or the tradition of the Church, as understood by local Irish priests.
Thus Irish Christians demonstrated an appreciation for what we refer to today as common grace. Common grace is the evidence of God's working among unbelievers in order to do good to them and their neighbors. Paul's message to the people at Lystra is an excellent example. How were they able to develop agriculture and benefit themselves for so many years without the knowledge of the true God? God Himself helped them, thus leaving a witness to His grace in their midst.
I know in these pages we can sometimes seem a little harsh on contemporary culture and ideas. Well, it's necessary, as I'm sure you can understand. At the same time, I want to remind us that God is at work even among unbelievers, distributing good gifts, making His beauty, goodness, and truth known, and channeling all kinds of blessings to believers and unbelievers alike.
We should pay more attention to the workings of God's common grace, and be quick to give Him thanks and praise whenever we experience these. It may come in the form of an unsaved co-worker's generously offering to help you on a project. Or in some film or song or article on a website that uncovers a vein of truth. Goodness, even a politician may utter something of truth from time to time.
Remember, God is everywhere at work, bringing His glory to light. Sometimes that happens even through the agency of those who do not know the Lord. Whenever we encounter this, thanks and praise are in order. Moreover, we may, like Paul, find ourselves in the midst of an opportunity to show people that God loves them in everyday, ordinary ways, and to explain that He has more love in store for them than they've ever imagined possible.
Pay attention to common grace. Be quick to acknowledge God's witness and to give Him thanks and praise. Then look for a way to use His witness as part of your own as you point your friends - saved and unsaved alike - to the everywhere-present and always reliable grace and mercy of the living Christ.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
ReVision - OK, so this whole newsletter may seem to be intended to soften the blow I struck at pop culture over at the website. Guilty. But not apologetic.
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