500 Years Later

I originally posted this blog on May 5, 2016, but I thought I would post it again in honor of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.


 

martin-luther-bannerMartin Luther changed the world. His accomplishments are more than the 95 thesis. He translated the Bible into German. The words he used in the translation changed the vernacular and culture of the German people. He wrote songs we still sing today. He improved education, shifting it from training students to be replicas of their masters, into teaching them to think for themselves. His contribution to our society was not just the spiritual freedom he championed. What he did touches all parts of our lives

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I once read a Roman Catholic document from his era that called his movement the “great rebellion”. Whether what he did was reform or rebel, one thing is certain, his work would have been obscure had he not stood on the shoulders of other men. One of these men was John Wycliffe (1320 – 1384). Wycliffe effectually stated that the only reliable guide to truth is the Bible. He also said that every man is capable of understanding its salvific teachings, without professional church-men explaining it. On May 4, 1415, he was declared a heretic and all of his writings were banned. Thirteen years later his bones were exhumed, burned and the ashes thrown into the River Swift. The whole of his life work and his remains were thought to have been swept from the face of history. But John Wycliffe is considered the Morning Star of the Reformation. His work in England was built upon and culminated in the Great Reformation in Germany. Wycliffe, like Luther after him, was a transitional person. He catapulted history in a new direction. And he, like Luther was great.

There are times I think about my life and I see that my origins, my mistakes and my rebellion have left scars on me and those I love. I wish I could go back and do things over with the knowledge I now have. I am sure we all feel that way sometimes. But I can’t go back and live my broken childhood over. And the poor choices I have made are cemented in history; but today I can start my own reformation. I can be a morning star. I can be the transitional person in my ancestry. Today, my marriage can be better than my parent’s. My children can be raised in a better home than where I grew up. Today, I can make decisions that will change the course of history. Today, I can prepare the way for someone like Martin Luther to start a revolution that will topple family woundedness in an entire nation.

But sometimes thinking about the past can leave me discouraged about the future. Well, I choose not to wallow in “what-ifs”. I have decided that if I can’t go all the way up the mountain of change, I will go as far as I can with Christ; and once there deposit my children on an escarpment where no one in my family has ever been before. And hopefully they will carry on and be transitional people too.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.…” Phil 3:13, 14

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