For many people, St. Patrick’s Day is a time to wear green, eat corned beef and cabbage, and have a night out with friends. But behind all the merrymaking is a story of a 4th century missionary whose life exemplified the kind of self-sacrificial love we strive to emulate here at Cross.
Before Patrick came to Ireland voluntarily as a preacher of the gospel, he came in shackles as a slave. This injustice could have embittered Patrick toward the Irish people, who had kidnapped him from his homeland in Britain. But after escaping on a boat and vowing never again to set foot in Ireland, God gave Patrick a supernatural compassion for his pagan captors who desperately needed Christ.
It’s easy to have compassion on a friend, or on those who suffer by no fault of their own. But Cross International aims to do more than this, because when we come across people who do not share our values or faith and who have made choices that have worsened their situation, Christ’s radical love compels us to show mercy. We are called not only to serve those who are kind, hard-working, intelligent, and attractive, but also those who are rough around the edges, difficult to look at, and unlikely to thank us for our help.
The question isn’t whether the needy deserve our compassion, but whether Christ deserves our obedience. When Cross provides water wells to poor villages in developing nations, we don’t discriminate over who can drink from them. Instead, we give to everyone as if we were giving to Christ himself. Our house-repair project in Vietnam has been hugely popular with local communities, and a great witness to the gospel, precisely because we reach out to everyone regardless of what church they attend or whether they have any faith at all. That kind of love is what brings people into the doors of Christian churches, eager to discover the reason why we do what we do.