It happened over a period of years, but the day it caught people’s attention, the day it went viral in the social media of the times and began a landslide of change in how people thought, lived and believed happened exactly 500 years ago this week.
The Reformation was sparked by a young German monk who didn’t even have Twitter or Facebook, but posted a note calling out corruption in the church and government on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg. The Reformation (and unfortunately, the corruption) is still going on today. I invite you to join me in a new Christian Reformation as together we discover what it takes to follow Jesus Christ in the 21st century.
Martin Luther asked the church to give up certain practices and traditions that had become corrupt and managed to become barriers to God. It was hard to face the need to clean house then, and it is hard for us now. We all have ways of doing church that we cling to and love, and sometimes giving up our bad practices can be worse than pulling teeth.
We live in a world filled with multiplied choices, possibilities and temptations. That’s why we need to keep our eyes on what is central, what is vital, what is the heart of our faith. That’s why we need to be firmly anchored in Jesus.
A large portion of the church in the United States has failed to remain centered in Christ and as a result has become stagnant, or so removed from Christian teachings it resembles either a political convention or the booster rally for a high school football team. As a result even the very memory of Christian faith is disappearing in our younger generations.
Think about some of the things religion says is important. It says the more money you give to the church the richer you will become. It says you need to be a fundamentalist — or a liberal — to really get Jesus right, and to know how to live and what to believe. Much of religion today tells us that true Christians always vote Republican. Or is it Democrat?
The funny thing is, I can’t remember how Jesus voted, or even what he said about the “hot button” items we make into main issues today. I do remember he said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Then he said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And he spent his life showing us what that looked like.
Love God. Love neighbor. That’s the foundation a new reformation can be built upon, a reformation bringing the good news of Jesus Christ into our broken, divided, lost world. Salvation is not going to come from our politics. It’s not found in the the false hopes of those who preach a corrupted and modified gospel. A new Christian Reformation takes real faith, it takes commitment, it takes Jesus in our lives. And you know, that’s just where he wants to be!