A Faith-Full Reformation500
“It was a time of turmoil, lust and power,” the Luther Rock Opera (yes, there is such a thing!) vocalists sing of Martin Luther’s college years in the early 1500’s. Not so different from our day, eh?
The Roman Catholic church of Luther’s time was led by nobility who bought their positions with riches gained by charging the poor for assurance of God’s pardon. Into this church stepped a former student of law with a guilty conscience and an inquiring mind. As young Luther learned of the church’s abuses, he demanded ever more forcefully that the church offer God’s good news of love and leadership for all people “without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55).
The movement Luther began ripples on today, and on this 500th Anniversary of Luther’s initial protest, that long-ago October 31 when he nailed 95-Theses (assertions), we celebrate and own again The Reformation’s legacy and ongoing work:
- Justification by grace through faith (JBF). The good news Jesus knew and lived is that God’s love for each and every human being (YOU!) doesn’t depend on human thoughts, words, and deeds. Our trust (faith!) in God’s love and forgiveness opens a new life of growing freedom, hope, and willing partnership in God’s work in our world. How living and daring is your confidence in God’s love and leadership? What bold service might God be inviting you to attempt?
- God’s Word as Final Authority. Luther translated the Bible into common German so that everyone from peasant to king could meet the God of Jesus Christ in scripture and come to trust and obey God personally. Does regular time with God in a Bible you understand grow your living, daring confidence in Jesus? Even one verse a day can make a BIG difference! See Taking Faith Home or Illustrated Compassion for Families.
- Priesthood of All Believers. Discipleship’s not just for professionals! Every baptized Christian has “the right and responsibility” to relate directly with God through Christ and to “walk in newness of life” with the Risen Christ (Ro. 6). See our “Practice of the Month” for simple ideas to relate directly with God in renewing ways or consider PB’s Soul Keeping course on Thursday evenings.
- Education Reform. Because reading the Bible was so important to faith, Luther pushed for reading, education, and critical thinking for everyone, including girls! Our Lutheran Universities (Faith supports Concordia in Moorhead, MN, and Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma, WA) continue a legacy of courageous life-long learning for all.
- Human Rights. Though some of Luther’s later writings grew hateful and condemning, the main body of his work claims that all people are equally noble before God and deserving of independence and responsibility—very unusual in his class-driven context. A good way to redirect our founder’s problematic writings is to work for the good of Muslims and Jews in our context. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is a great resource for greater understanding and service to our foreign neighbors in need—look them up online.
- Always Reforming, Semper Reformanda. Luther understood that the Church of Christ will always be erring, correcting, and re-forming as we follow Jesus in faith. Any human organization—and the Church is surely one!—will always be adjusting its course.
Today, Friends of Faith, we celebrate our freedom to follow Christ in our context: trusting God’s love expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, reading and wrestling with God’s Word individually and together, aware that each of us has a right and responsibility to know and extend God’s love and leadership in knowledge and service to all.
Happy Reformation500, Friends of Faith!