500 YEARS LATER
October 31, 2017, marks the 500th year anniversary since the start of the Protestant Reformation. This moment began when Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, nailed his 95 theses (his fundamental objections to Roman Catholic teaching) to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This moment was precipitated by many difficult years as Luther agonized over what he saw plainly in Scripture as the beauty and truth of the Gospel–that a sinner is made right before God by faith alone and not by anything else.
We may struggle to understand the significance of this moment today, but in terms of our faithfulness to God’s Word, this moment in history is of paramount importance. Luther’s aim was to reform the teachings of the Roman Catholic church, which was then especially, a powerful governing structure in society. He was taking on the very structures of his society with the conviction wrought by God’s Word that the truth of the Gospel is worth standing for, even if you stand alone.
The truth of what Luther stood for is still very needed today. We ought to take some cues from Luther, who pored over God’s Word himself and was shaped by the story of the Bible. He lived a countercultural life that was informed by this good news message of Jesus. In his day, the Bible was scarcely available to the common man, and therefore, a large aspect of this reformation was to make the Bible available to everyone in their native language.
Today, in the West we have such a wide proliferation of God’s Word that our need is almost the reverse. Just because the Bible has been brought to common man does not mean the Story of the Bible is common–in the sense that it is merely one story among a plethora of options. This story is wholly unique. In our world of many competing stories (narratives or worldviews), the Bible presents to us the true story of the whole world. The story that answers the most foundational of questions.
The pressing question today is: What story will shape us as a people? The story of our culture or God’s Story? Let’s follow Luther in his boldness and live in light of this story. Let’s remember that the church is not a private religious community interested only in otherworldly salvation, but rather, we are a contrast people called out to be on display in our world to show what true humanity looks like and to call witness to the public truth that Jesus is Lord over all creation and through him, God is restoring all things!