Monday, January 19, 2009

January 20- Calvin and Obama's start

January 20
“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:25-28)

Calvin: God, respects the purity and innocence of the heart, not such things as kindred country, dignity, and riches which people esteem highly. Whatever difference there may have been between Jew and Greek before the coming of Christ, that difference has been abolished by Christ. (CR 49:36). We should not regard what a man is and what he deserves: but we should go higher—that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. He has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing one for the other. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should deface himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man, for as long as we are human creatures, we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens…If there come some Moor or barbarian, since he is a man, he brings a mirror in which we are able to contemplate that he is our brother and neighbor: for we cannot abolish the order of nature which God has established as inviolable.” (CR 51:105).

There are two things that seem to both humble and unite human beings- whether they are highly educated presidents or lowly unemployed citizens. These two things are the image of God and the sinfulness of humanity. The image of God is in each of us, and sinfulness is also in each of us. Because we are all made in God’s image, we are all worth something. Calvin would not have us believe as some traditions tend to do that those who do not believe are not worth something. So we are called to help all people whether they have faith or are worthy of help or not. Our sinfulness keeps us humble. The greatest and least in the eyes of the world are on equal footing before the judgment seat of Christ. We all stand in need of forgiveness. So no individual is intrinsically worth more than the next. There is no special seat for the wealthy of famous in Calvinistic churches. Calvin took a dim view of super pomp and circumstance, for it tended to hide our equality and gives the illusion of some not sinning. A third thing brings us together- our baptism. No matter our economic condition, race, educational accomplishments we must all be baptized under the same water and name.
Today the United States is inaugurating a new president. No doubt Calvin would approve of the diversity embodied in Barak Obama. We all should celebrate and rejoice that America has embraced diversity. Yet, Calvin might object to too much being made of it all. In hard economic times, to relish in millions spent on an inauguration- nearly five times I am told the Bush’s inauguration, is hard to swallow. Yet, no doubt Calvin would have approved of Obama’s holding up serving others, and painting cabinets for a homeless shelter-- as he did the day before his inauguration. No doubt Obama will be a mixture of the image of God shining and tarnished. This is all the more reason that we should pray for him.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting site. Found it doing research on John Calvin. Do you think Rush Limbaugh would support praying for President Obama? I hope you know I'm being facetious here.

    Did an extensive study of Calvin about 10 years ago. He's a historical figure that few today know much of anything about, which is ironic, because his legacy has lasted five centuries.

    I doubt any of today's cultural "flavors of the month" will have that kind of staying power.