new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

Plastic Paddies

“I'm part Irish”. Have you ever heard this expression? Sadly I have. Part of me always wonders “Which part of you is Irish?”

I used to work in the public records office in Belfast – a dull, drab building packed full of old maps, will calendars and baptismal records. It was a quiet place, intended for study, but every so often the silence would be broken as someone from thousands of miles away arrived to “find their roots”.

Frankly I've never understood this desperation to be classified as Irish. Some of the people I met would be hard pressed to name the four provinces, never mind the 32 counties. Some would struggle to differentiate between Wicklow and Glasgow.

And yet their “Irishness”, was obviously important enough to them to spend a few hours looking through dusty books.

We see this fixation with being Irish in the massive St Patrick's day celebrations across the pond. Major cities suddenly become awash with green as leprechauns take to the streets and tricolours are waved with pride. You could easily mistake Boston or Chicago for Dublin or Galway.

But, there's a problem. The vast majority of people attending these parades aren't Irish. Admittedly most revellers don't claim to be; they just want to party. But those who do call themselves Irish often have a tenuous link to the country at best.

Sure, they act like they're Irish, but that doesn't change anything. Every year on 17
th March, the world is full of “plastic paddies”.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Their claims may be fanciful, but they aren't hurting anyone.

Far more serious is our tendency to hastily label ourselves as Christians.

How would you define a Christian? Someone who goes to worship services? Someone who has been baptised? That's not how Jesus defines it in the Bible. According to Jesus, being a Christian is all about having a relationship with him.

Going to church and doing good don't make us Christian any more than wearing shamrocks or drinking Guinness make us Irish.

Christianity isn't about a list of rules. It's about what Jesus has done for us and the loving relationship he has made possible by dealing with his people's sins once and for all.