Why You Need to Know Ramon Llull
In 1314, an 82-year-old man who'd left the wealth of his European homestead to study Arabic and preach the Gospel to Muslims walked into the city square and declared the name of Jesus as the Name above all names. A mob gathered, grabbed their stones and injured this elderly man so badly, he was escorted home by merchants and died in his Majorcan hometown months later.
While in his early thirties, he saw the crucified God-Man hanging on the cross in the air beside him—six times. Once, you can shake off if you're heady. Twice, perhaps, if you're drunk and headstrong. Six times, and you burn your Plan A to the ground.
The Gospel he died declaring converted a young, licentious hedonist into a man who loved the Word and Name of God. Born into a world fractured and battered by centuries of Crusades, he knew the sword was ill-befitting of those who confessed the slaughtered Messiah. While living in North Africa, Llull built infrastructure for other laborers to follow him to the field. Sadly, few ever did.
As we face the world after the Arab Spring, grappling with the Syrian Civil War and the consequences of the hemorrhaging refugee crisis, we hear a lot of the same bigotry-based rhetoric fueling self-preservation and lust for empires that Llull heard his neighbors go on about. I can imagine it weighed heavy on his heart; it drove him to the Muslim world. "You want to 'conquer the world for Jesus'?" he'd propose. "Put down your sword and pick up your cross."