Today, the Protestant church (and Lutheran Church in particular) commemorates the Festival of the Reformation. On All Hallows’ Eve, 1517, Martin Luther posted his now famous 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This document created a tidal wave of change in the church as it called for major reforms to the practice and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (to which almost all Christians except for those in the East belonged).
I always feel conflicted on Reformation Day. On the one hand, the whole Church should celebrate the rediscovery of the true Gospel of salvation in Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone; the Gospel, which at the time was being muddled by the Church. Today is a day of remembering and celebrating the freedom we have in Christ which was magnified as the process of reformation continued. Individual believers read God’s Word in their own language for the first time and were empowered to be the priesthood of all believers. This is THE BEST NEWS for all of us and much good has come to the Church as a result of these events.
But my heart also aches that there was and still is bitter division within Christ’s Church. There are some major issues that divide us but many other smaller ones that we needlessly have erected as barriers. Luther’s dream was not a Church that divided according to ethnic, theological, or geographic differences but a Church that was united in the true proclamation of the goodnews that is the salvation for the whole world. And yet, sadly my own tradition can veer toward treating today as a triumphal day of victory that mockingly proclaims, ‘we got it right and you got it wrong.’ This victorious spirit does little to foster deeper relationships between our brothers and sisters throughout the Church. Jesus himself has very strong words for those who become self-righteous and calloused to the work of His living Spirit. May we always be open to God’s moving among us.
While part of me grieves each Reformation Day, a bigger part of me celebrates the continued work of the Spirit calling, gathering, enlightening, and sanctifying the whole Christian church on earth and keeping it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. I rejoice at the ways the churches work together here in Leader for the Gospel’s sake. And I rejoice that the Spirit continues to call each of us to a continual process of reformation (sanctification) until that day when Jesus returns or calls us home.
Consider today where the Spirit may be calling you to reconcile broken relationships, correct your wayward heart, or deepen your conviction about the truths you hold dear. Blessed Reformation Day!
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.