Momentous Trivialities

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Original photo by edouardo 

Daily Reform, Philippians 2:2-8

From the Reformer

The tractarian literature of the fourteenth century set forth the rights of man and the principles of common law in opposition to the pretensions of the papacy and the dogmatism of the scholastic systems. Lay writers made themselves heard as pioneers of thought, and a practical outlook upon the mission of the Church was cultivated. With unexampled audacity Dante assailed the lives of popes, putting some of St. Peter’s successors into the lowest rooms of hell.

The Reformatory councils of Pisa, Constance, and Basel turned Europe for nearly fifty years, 1409-1450, into a platform of ecclesiastical and religious discussion. Though they failed to provide a remedy for the disorders prevailing in the Church, they set an example of free debate, and gave the weight of their eminent constituency to the principle that not in a select group of hierarchs does supreme authority in the Church rest, but in the body of the Church.

The hopelessness of expecting any permanent reform from the papacy and the hierarchy was demonstrated in the last years of the period, 1460-1517, when ecclesiastical Rome offered a spectacle of moral corruption and spiritual fall which has been compared to the corrupt age of the Roman Empire.

The religious unrest and the passion for a better state of affairs found expression in Wyclif, Huss, and other leaders who, by their clear apprehension of truth and readiness to stand by their public utterances, even unto death, stood far above their own age and have shone in all the ages since.

—Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church

Pulling It Together

A video was aired on a popular television program, showing a pastor baptizing a young boy. The pastor’s style was to scoop a small amount of water into his hand and as with a shell to pour water three times onto the child’s head. When finished, as the pastor was saying a few words to the family and congregation, the boy stuck his hand into the bowl and with one hard shove, splashed water back onto the pastor. The pastor, taking it all in good humor, smiled and handed the child back to his family.

In the big picture of history, we may consider the faithful, little things we do today as trivial. Indeed, one may wonder if Wyclif, Huss, and Dante ever suspected that they would shine through the ages. What they did in their time is what we must do in our own: be faithful. It may not seem like much, to baptize a child, or pen a tiny tract, or put the needs of another ahead of your own. The Roman soldiers and Pilate likely thought that crucifying a rabbi was of no consequence. Yet, Jesus was faithful to his Father and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And the world was forever changed.

God may greatly impact the world by your faithfulness to him today—even if that faithfulness seems small to you.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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