Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
John Calvin, the Father of the Presbyterian Church, used to finish his lectures with the above verse. In the midst of the Reformation, which brought about a hundred years of war all over Europe, John Calvin encouraged Reformed pastors to remain resolute and focused. He knew that for Protestantism to survive, the clerical leaders had to be faithful and courageous. Many of them would be hunted down, imprisoned, and even killed. Calvin used this verse to inspire them with the knowledge that God was on their side.
Five hundred years later, we appear to be at the beginning of a new Reformation in the life of the Presbyterian Church. Throughout ‘mainline’ Christianity, a lot of huge changes are taking place. At the moment, no one knows what shape we will take or where we will be in the next decade. A lot of guessing and envisioning is going on, which in turn is creating a great deal of anxiety among pastors and members alike.
No matter how it ends, the smartest thing is to be faithful and endure. John Calvin recognized this five hundred years ago, just as Paul did when he wrote the original verse to the persecuted Roman Christians almost two thousand years ago. Both Paul and Calvin did not know what the outcome of Christianity’s troubles would look like, but they both believed that God was in control, shaping Christian history and reforming the Church, just as He had intended. If God could do that centuries ago, then surely He is still doing the same today? After all, if God is for us, then who can be against us?
Questions for personal reflection
What makes me anxious about today’s Church? Where do I see God at work in today’s Church?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the Church is Your Everlasting Bride. During these troubled times for Your Church on Earth, remind us of Your Love for Her. Help us to see what You are doing through the Church and allow us to fervently join You in that holy work. In Your Sacred Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is John’s latest drawing for his Psalms art project. It’s based on a verse from Psalm 137. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2838/9426814170_b4797dbe53_b.jpg