OK, I’d like to wrap up with one final observation.
The longer I reflect on Calvin’s personality, the clearer it becomes to me that he was, above all, a man of truth. And the more I think about it, the more convicted I become by the possibility that at least part of the reason we’re not attracted to him is because, unlike us, he simply refused to fake friendship for political reasons. He was so repulsed by duplicity and hypocrisy that he resolved never to pretend to be someone’s friend when he really wasn’t.
The drawbacks to that way of relating to people are perfectly obvious, but the motivation for Calvin’s honesty is entirely praiseworthy. It was because he regarded friendship as such a great gift and blessing from God that he refused to degrade it with insincerity and feigned kindness. In most Christian contexts, that way of operating just wouldn’t fly. But it’s hard not to respect Calvin’s courage and the clarity of his perception that of all God’s gifts to us, close friendship is certainly one of the best.
So let me suggest that we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth in an unconventional way. For the rest of the year, whenever we think of Calvin, or even better, as we’re reading one of his books, let us allow his memory to be an occasion for us to praise God for the incomparable blessing of friendship. Calvin was always uneasy with memorials, but I think even he would be pleased with that way of celebrating his life and legacy.
[Ed.: Thank you, Adam!]