Reformation: Celebrating and Repenting

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. – Romans 5:1-2

This past weekend we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the protestant Reformation. In 1517 a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 points of debate to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. Based on his study of Scripture, Luther believed that the Church needed reforming, and he wanted to discuss those needed reforms with his fellow scholars. That single event started a movement that shaped the Church as we know it.

Thanks to Luther and the Reformation…

…we read and hear Scripture in our native language.

…we sing our praises in worship in glorious hymns.

…we trust Christ for our forgiveness, rather than paying for it or working for it.

…we embrace not just the ministry of clergy, but the ministry to which we’ve all been called.

We have much to celebrate as we consider the impact of the Reformation put into motion 500 years ago.

But we also have much of which to repent.

We’ve used the Reformation to further divide the Body of Christ, especially demonizing our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.

We’ve often turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to Luther’s ugly, anti-Semitic writings which Hitler used as propaganda for his despicable agenda.

We’ve failed to embrace the reality that reformation isn’t something that happened once, long ago, but a continual movement to align our individual and corporate lives, repenting of that which does not reflect the Kingdom of God.

Reformation is both a gift and a responsibility. We are stewards of this movement, and it matters that we steward it well as God gives us grace to do so. I hope and pray that our gratitude for the gift we’ve been given will stir us to honest repentance, not so that God will forgive us, but because the Reformation reminds us that God already has.

What in you needs reformation? How does your church need to be reformed, and how will you be an agent of that reform?

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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  • Wendy Larson
    Reply

    It seems to me that an agent of reform accepts the gift of grace (a daily process?), working out faith in daily life. I also believe that individual transactions, acts of grace toward each other, are powerful and significant agencies. We need to be careful about placing guilt and shame on others or looking to political doctrines for moral guidance. We do the best we can striving to be informed by Word, Grace and Faith alone. Yes, Martin Luther wasn’t perfect but now I’m inspired to know more about him, re-reading and going further than Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand.

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