The Rose in the Thorns

Jean de Brebeuf was a Jesuit missionary to the Huron Indians in Canada in the early 17th century, who bucked against the trend, common among missionaries to the “New World” in his time, to treat Native Americans as less than human; as creatures that must be coerced into accepting the gospel—by force if necessary. In writing to fellow Jesuit missionaries, he implored them: “You must have sincere affection for the Savages.” And while most of us will not devote our lives to frontier missions, as Brebeuf did (though I wish it were so), there is something crucial we must learn from him about how we ought to approach the unchurched—such as, perhaps, our next-door neighbors—who care very little for the things that we hold so dear. Consider how you might apply the following counsel from Brebeuf’s, Instructions for the Fathers of Our Society Who Shall Be Sent to the Hurons to your own neighborhood or workplace evangelistic efforts:

“…Leaving a highly civilized community, you fall into the hands of barbarous people who care but little for your philosophy or your theology. All the fine qualities which might make you loved and respected in France are like pearls trampled under the feet of swine…which utterly despise you when they see that you are not as good pack animals as they are. If you could go naked, and carry the load of a horse upon your back, as they do, then you would be wise according to their doctrine, and would be recognized as a great man, otherwise not. Jesus Christ is our true greatness; it is He alone and His cross that should be sought in running after these people, for, if you strive for anything else, you will find naught but bodily and spiritual affliction. But having found Jesus Christ in His cross, you have found the rose in the thorns, sweetness in bitterness, all in nothing.”

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One thought on “The Rose in the Thorns”

  1. Bryan,

    I agree with you on one level. Some to whom we share that which is most treasured to us will treat our pearls as trash. However, I believe most are genuinely curious about the REAL Jesus, not the one who many in the church have immagined him to be. I had a conversation with a neighbor just last night who couldn’t understand why marketing was so big in the church today and why, too, he was feeling pressure to support programs while the hat is being passed in a service. After all, Jesus didn’t market, he says, he simply allowed the power of God to speak on his behalf. My neighbor has no intention of trampling on the gospel. I believe he genuinely wants to love Jesus. He is simply looking for a place that will help him foster that love without the accompanying motive of filling a quota or finding a warm new body to serve in the children’s ministry. I think we all have more neighbors like that than we tend to think. As Christians it is important to know exactly wat our neighbors perception of Christ really is. Some of them are not too far off. They just need a little help finding the real Messiah. Keep up the good postings.

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