500 years ago there was a man who had doubts about the dominant power of his time. His name was Martin Luther and on October 31, 1517, he pinned a long creed on to the church door in Wittenberg, which was then a small and relatively obscure town in Saxony. The creed contained a list of 95 “theses” challenging the theology (and therefore the authority) of the then all-powerful Catholic church. This rebellious stunt by an obscure monk must have seemed, at the time, like a flea bite on an elephant. But it was the event that triggered a revolution in religious belief, undermined the authority of the Roman church, unleashed ferocious wars in Europe and shaped the world in which most of us
(at least in the west) grew up.
Luther was attacking the theology underpinning the doctrine of purgatory, as well as the business model built upon it. It was the equivalent of calling the Pope a liar, and them was fightin words. People had been burned at the stake for much less.
This movement, out of which every other church (other than Catholic) came into being, is known as the Protestant Reformation – Protestant as in ‘Protest.’ At the center of our faith is Reformation – ‘Semper Reformata -- ’ Reformed and Always Reforming. It is the center of our faith and our heritage to question our thinking, and to challenge
the dominant power of our day.
Jesus did no less 2000 years ago when he challenged the dominant powers of His day, by nailing only one thesis to the cross, along with Himself – it was the mandate to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind’ and a second one just like it ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Since that time, it has been posited by scholars and philosophers alike that every 500 years comes a new reformation in thought and culture.
We are in need of a new reformation.
But I am tired.
I am tired of Jesus words not being taken seriously. I am tired of a world where we prefer to strike rather than turn the other cheek, and we would rather fester than forgive. I am tired of the poor and the elderly and the foreigner being shoved out to the sidelines and straightaway being treated badly. I am exhausted over people still making assumptions about another, based strictly on the color of their skin. I am tired of shame and blame being leveled at others, rather than every individual being responsible for his or her ‘side of the street,’ so to speak. I am weary of world whose religion seems to have become consumerism – and community becomes a commodity we obtain at the lowest relational price. We offer acceptance without accountability, relationship without reflection, and promote selfishness instead of sacrifice. We prefer judgment over mercy, even when Jesus says the exact opposite, and we are quick to curse others when Jesus says ‘Blessing!’ Where is respect, honor, and truth these days?
We have lost our ability to talk to one another.
Critical thinking seems to have gone out to pasture.
We are in need of another reformation. This reformation has nothing to do with the doctrine or the business model of the Church, but more about what’s happening within our hearts.
What is the dominating power in your life these days that needs to be challenged?
Come Lord Jesus.
Until then, you will find me looking for the modern-day, 21st century Luther.
In His Service,
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…..
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
So much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying
That we are born to eternal life.