Recently some Protestant churches acknowledged and celebrated the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation.
On October 31, 1517, a German monk called Martin Luther nailed a list of statements on the Wittenberg Castle door. These public statements were called the 95 Theses and they addressed teachings and practices within the church that Luther saw to be contrary to the Bible.
To reform literally means: ‘to make things better’. That was Luther’s goal. He had no desire to defect or to form a new church. However he was ordered to retract these statements, but he made it clear that he would only do so if he were to be shown through God’s Word to be at error.
His main concern was with the selling of ‘Indulgence letters’. It was taught that these ‘letters’ would release a person (living or dead) from the torment of suffering for any wrongdoings in their earthly life. That suffering would occur after death in ‘purgatory’, a time of cleansing that would prepare people for the joys of heaven.
Many of the world religions are the human attempt to get right with God. This is what separates Christianity from the other world religions. In Christianity, God comes to man through his Son, Jesus. The great rediscovery of the Reformation is that we are saved by faith alone.
It is always good for us to remember where we have come from. However, if all we do in remembering the Reformation is to go back to the events of that time and stay there, we are to be greatly pitied.
The church must always be working to make things better. Indeed, we must all be changing to make things better. The church does not exist for its own ends. It is in the world to serve the world. In the same way, the follower of Jesus exists to make the world a better place. Change for the better always begins with you and me. So what are you able to change about yourself to make a better you? What might you change around yourself to make a better community? God is calling you to do it. Better people creating a better world would not only be good for everyone – it would delight and honour God.