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No excuses

In 1536 Reformer William Farel recruited John Calvin to come to Geneva,  to minister to the congregation of St. Peter’s Church in that Swiss city.

Calvin, a sickly man all his life, was on his way to Strasbourg to be a quiet scholar, but he relented under this need, this request, to become a pastor. 

Two years later, the city fathers publicly banished Calvin from Geneva. Actually, Calvin felt relieved. The moral chaos of the city was terrible. He went to Strasbourg.

Three years later in 1541, the same city fathers who had tried to humiliate him begged Calvin to return and help restore order. 

He didn’t want to go this second time, either, “yet,” he wrote, “because I know that I am not my own master, I offer my heart as a true sacrifice to the Lord.”

This became the motto of Calvin’s life. His emblem would include a hand holding out a heart to God with the inscription, prompte et sincere (“promptly and sincerely”).

Promptly and sincerely Calvin answered a call to very difficult task.

There are many times in our own life, when we don’t feel like taking a course of action, because it would be inconvenient or risky or just plain boring.  And we do not respond “promptly and sincerely”, but rather make our excuses…and some of them can be pretty lame and rather unconvincing.

But the greatest of folk down through the centuries, have, despite knowing that the outcome of their action could impact negatively upon them, accepted the challenge.

Jesus Christ was determined to go to Jerusalem even though he knew that it would probably mean death for him in the end. But for him, there was no turning back

He knew that he had to go.

Certainly in the early church when this Gospel was being written followers of Jesus faced great opposition from their families and close friends.  They were even in some cases considered dead by the family.  Funerals were probably held for them.  How can you go back to family and friends who have pronounced you dead.? 


We know the love and forgiveness of God. We experience the power of the Holy Spirit – a power to live and to serve Christ’s way of life. We have a sense of belonging in a loving Christian community.   Our sense of mission is larger than any personal agenda.

However there are always costs.  The following of Christ demands personal sacrifices.  It often means unpopular stands on some issues, standing against such things as destroy love or works against love in our world.  We need to be working for peace and justice, for freedom of all people and toward the well being of all people.  It also means the loss of our motivation toward profit as our main goal in life. 

Detrich Bonhoeffer. was a German Lutheran theologian and minister. He also came to know the cost of discipleship.  He came to America for awhile while all the difficulties were happening in his homeland.

He went back to Germany eventually saying, “I have come to the conclusion that I have made a mistake in coming to America.  I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of the Christian life in Germany after the war if I don’t share the trials of this time with my people….since coming on board ship my inner disruption about the future has disappeared”.

You could say that he “set his face” to go to Germany where he was to be imprisoned and eventually executed for his beliefs and his opposition to Hitler. 

NOW is always the time to decide about our life.  It has always been impressive in the Old Testament when the Israelites came to a critical time in their life and one of their leaders would put a decision before the people to “choose today whom you will serve. 

This is always the choice before us as followers of Christ. That is the choice in all the decisions we face day by day. When we choose the giving, loving, caring way of Christ, it is always a CHOICE TO LIVE, whatever the cost, but to the greater glory of God.

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic