Saturday, June 13, 2009

6/14- Calvin and courage

(Image of St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by Francois Dubois)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

6/14- Courage-

“Fear not for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you by my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Calvin: But let no one deceive himself, let no one cajole himself in his sinfulness, when he hears that sin always dwells in us. When we speak thus it is not that those who otherwise are all too prone to sin should slumber
untroubled in their sins, but only that those who are disturbed and pricked by their own flesh should not faint and be discouraged. Let them rather think that they are still on the way, and believe that they have made good
progress when they feel that a bit is being taken away from their lust each day, until they reach their destination, that is, the final death of their flesh, which shall be accomplished in the close of this mortal life. Meanwhile, let
them not cease to struggle manfully, to have courage for the onward way, and to spur on to full victory. For the fact that, after long striving, they see no little difficulty still remaining ought to sharpen their efforts all the
more. This we must believe: we are baptized into the mortification of our flesh, which begins with our baptism and which we pursue day by day and which will, moreover, be accomplished when we pass from this life to
the Lord. (IV.15.11)

The picture of Calvin is of someone pale, and thin- not a handsome knight or warrior. Yet Calvin had great courage. He stood up to his foes in Geneva. He wrote what he thought, often rebuking others who were in powerful positions to hurt him. He entered into Geneva knowing that the road was a lot rougher than what he planned (he wanted to be a Protestant scholar). Indeed it was. Calvinists braved many problems. The Huguenots in France and the Hungarian Reformed Church faced terrible persecutions by the Catholics. Most know the story of the Pilgrims braving the seas to come to America, along with the Puritans. The Scottish Covenanters were stubbornly brave against their English persecutors. Courage almost seems to be elicited by Calvin’s teachings. Remember he taught that we are in God’s hands, and we do not need to fear death. As Calvin put it above, death is the final cleansing from this life and the final step in growth. Calvin also spoke of answering God’s call even if that call leads to persecution or death. There was just such trust in God evident in Calvin’s thinking and the way he lived. In my mind, it is a good, sincere, courageous way. John Ortberg said, “If you want to walk on water, You’ve got to get out of the boat.” Jesus calls us to “come.” In our fearful time- when people are afraid of economic disaster, the sadness of war, and the moral uncertainties of life, we are called to be a witness to our faith by our courage.

Prayer: When I face times of fear, grant me courage, O Lord, to be a good witness for you.

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