Happy St Patrick’s Day to you all! This post isn’t about that, though, it’s just “the day that’s in it.”
From Monday until yesterday, I was away with fellow students and staff at the annual IBI retreat. This year we were in Castledaly Manor, in Westmeath. In fact, the lovely little town of Moate is only about 7km from it, and that is the exact centrepoint of the Island of Ireland!
Anyway, it was a great place to be – full of character and charm (the house I mean…….). It was really good to have fellowship with others, and meet some who I had not seen before as they are in college at different times/days. I shared a room with three others, two of whom I had not met.
There was space just to meet and chat with people (and being IBI there was planty of coffee!), as well as set times together. The speaker was Kevin Hargenden, who is training for the Presbyterian Ministry. He took us to three people in the Bible who failed – Samson, Peter and Paul, and contrasted their faliures with Jesus and how he thought and acted. In the case of Samson, he was motivated by his own agenda, and not that of God, whereas Jesus did the will of his Father. Peter, at one point, claimed that those who followed Jesus also needed the religion of the Jews. In other words, Gentile believers needed to jump through Jewish hoops. In contrast, Jesus spoke to a Samatiran woman at the well, and offered her Salvation in himself alone. Finally, the Apostle Paul acted similarly to Peter in a way before he was converted – he approved of the stoning of Steven as he believed that only the Jewish way was right. On the other hand, Jesus was willing to be worshipped by a woman of doubtful reputation at the home of a Pharisee, rather than accepting the Pharisees’ fundamentalist religion.
The challenges are there for all of us –
1. How much do we follow our own agenda rather than God’s?
2. Do we treat people from other backgrounds/races as inferior, or do we see them all as equal before God?
3. Do we follow religious tradition rather than God’s revealed truth?
All in all a worthwhile few days!