Today I am inspired by Francis of Assisi. I used to see St. Francis as the chubby monk statue that my grandma has in her garden… a man poor by choice who loved animals. That might be true, but there is so much more to him!
I recently read a Catholic book on the Crusades, called The Crusaders by Regine Pernoud, that my friend loaned to me. It was interesting because it was told from a very different perspective than secular and even Protestant history books. The Crusades surely is a multi-faceted subject filled with heroes and villains on both sides. It is so confusing and I really don’t know what stance to take on the subject! I came to a chapter on Francis of Assisi. In the middle of a bloody war against the Muslims, this brave man walked unarmed across Christian borders and into Muslim territory. He asked to be taken to the Sultan of Egypt. He was. This is a miracle for two reasons: firstly, because he was not killed on the spot, and secondly, because he was actually allowed to see the sultan. He witnessed to the Sultan, and the Sultan actually said that he would like to become a Christian, yet could not because of politics and fear of assassination (oh, how our human affairs cloud out the glow of eternity! It is tragic). In the darkness of warfare and bloodshed, St Francis was a shining example of how God wants us to deal with our enemies; with love and concern. This man risked his life to bring Christianity to the Muslims, while many of his fellow Christians were only interested in killing and fighting them over a single city.
Application: What in your life seems so important that you neglect what really is important? Are you fighting a personal “crusade” over your “Jerusalem?” In other words, are you so focused on something (even if it is something good) that you neglect to fulfill the Great Commission? Be a Francis of Assisi and not a Richard Coeur de Leon!