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Week Eight Review & Apply

Watch Week Eight Day Five

The Good and the Bad of Church History

This week we studied the lives and work of John Calvin, Jacobus Arminius, and Ignatius Loyola. We saw how the fruit of their work and the impact of their teaching extended well beyond their years on earth. And like all the leaders of the reform movements, they certainly had their flaws and struggles with sin. We can look back and see the darker side of the reform movements: the intolerance shown to divergent views, the oppression of minority groups, and the deeply divisive rhetoric employed at times by various leaders. We must not be afraid to name this. For everything the good leaders like Luther, Calvin, and Ignatius contributed, there are still dark spots on their careers as well. It is good to remember that leaders, in their day or ours, must not be placed on a lofty pedestal. It is also good to remember that as we lead in the places God has put us, we must keep an honest examination of ourselves as well. We must recognize our similar tendencies toward pride, anger, jealousy, or intolerance. As 1 John 1:8–9 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (NIV).

Our study of church history actually leads us to confession. This confession occurs on a corporate and individual level. We confess the collective sins of the church through history. This is an important part of our humble witness to a watching world, but we can also be led to confess our own sins. Like a mirror we hold up to see our own reflection, we recognize the same propensity toward sin in ourselves. The good news of Jesus Christ is that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The Lord has not left us alone in our sin. Through Jesus Christ and by the power of His Holy Spirit, we are being made new!

Spiritual Practices

This week we also studied the devotional written by Ignatius and used by the Jesuits. Ignatius created the Spiritual Exercises because, as he said, “just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call spiritual exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.” Consider that comparison: just as we work out and exercise our physical bodies, we also need exercises for our spiritual lives so we might grow and experience the Lord’s transformation in our lives.

What are the practices that shape you? Perhaps you spend regular time in prayer or silence. Maybe regular spiritual exercises for you include time in God’s creation or in community with others. What practices help you encounter the Lord? Which ones stretch you and challenge you (perhaps time in solitude or fasting)? Do some lead you not just into contemplation but also into action and participation in God’s mission? Is there a new practice the Lord is inviting you into in this season?

As we close our week, consider these words from 1 Timothy 4:8–10: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” (NIV) What has the Lord been saying to you this week through our study? What insights do you feel rising to the surface in your heart and mind?

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Daily Question

As you reflect on the events and people in church history discussed throughout the week, what was most influential to you and why?

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