Always Under Reform

This month we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. That officially began with Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenburg. These theses were a response to three essential issues he had with the Catholicism of his day. First of all, he took issue with the practice of selling indulgences. Secondly, he took issue with the need to hold to the Bible as the central authority for Christianity. Thirdly, he defended the issue of salvation as the result of faith rather than the quality of one's actions. Luther was not the first to have espoused these ideas, but it was under his influence that a swell of support arose to bring these issues into the limelight.
His purpose was not to create a new church. His purpose was to call the church back to the gospel principles taught by Jesus. He wanted reform. He wanted the Church to take itself seriously in regard to following Jesus' teachings. That meant the church needed to shift its focus away from its traditions and onto a pattern of self-evaluation for alignment with Christ our Head.
These theses were items for discussion in Luther's university classes. They were penned for his students to come prepared to discuss in class. In so doing, however, Luther paved the way for greater numbers of people to question the status quo of church practice, specifically in regard to the way the Church wielded fear of Divine punishment for sin over the rank and file populace. It was Luther's contention that the gospel preached freedom and grace due to God's love, not fear.
The Reformation work Luther started was most needed. The Church had degenerated along many issues and removed itself from the gospel of Christ Jesus. Rather than preaching grace, love, mercy, and faith, it had become more interested in seeking power, wealth, and control of the masses. As Luther himself stated, the work of the Church should always include reform. We are to be constantly searching for how we can align ourselves more closely with Christ Jesus and the gospel he proclaimed.

Reformation Day should not simply be a history lesson. It should be a reminder that Christians are called to follow Christ Jesus rather than our Church traditions. We are called to seek to better understand the good news Jesus preached. We are called to keep about the process of reforming our lives after Jesus' message of grace, love, mercy, compassion, and God's offer of reconciliation. Until we have become exactly like Christ Jesus, there will always be room for our own reformation.
©Copyright 2017, Christopher B. Harbin 


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