The Time of Reformation is Now
On October 31st, many people around the world are reacting to this day in various ways. For some it will be about candy and costumes. For others it's about prayer vigilance to keep dark spirits away. Many will use this day as an excuse to have a party. Then for others it is just another day on the calendar. For whatever reason people observe this day, it simply comes down to a matter of "what does this day mean to me?"
If we turn back the clock to five hundred years ago we will find a moment in time that changed the world by one young man who was doing an ordinary thing in what he would have consider a normal, everyday life in Germany as a college professor. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther was completing his Ph.D. requirements while working as an undergraduate professor at Wittenberg Castle. This final requirement writing a thesis – a book- on a topic that he was passionate about. It was necessary for his thesis to be read by his professors, and then publicly. He chose to write on a topic about the church's requirements for indulgences – making monetary donations to the church for salvation, prayer request, or blessings from leadership of the church. Martin Luther felt that method of receiving favor and blessings needed to be re-examined. This had been a practice by the church for hundreds of years that had not been questioned before.
What Martin Luther was NOT doing was being defiant against the Roman Catholic Church. His initial intent for writing his thesis on this topic was NOT to incite a revolution against indulgences, but to re-examine the Biblical concept of what the Scriptures were saying, and to stimulate an academic discussion within the Church.
The historical means of getting a thesis read publicly was to nail it to the door as an invitation to be read by any of the students or other professors on campus. Again, I want to emphasize this was NOT a defiant gesture by Martin Luther to come against the Catholic Church. However, because of that moment in his life of doing something that he was passionate about using the pathway of needing to write a thesis for his Ph.D., our world has been changed to over 25,000 Christian denominations within a five-hundred-year era.
Because of one man's action unveiled through his heart's passion of one Scripture, "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17), written by St. Paul about fifteen hundred years earlier, we have a diverse body of Christ made of different denominations -Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Church of God, Anglican, Mennonite, Pentecostal, United, etc. – all around the world. His intent was not to start a new reformation in church history, but to simply get people to start thinking with a humble heart of unity and love.
If you are asked the questions:
"Why did God bring you into the world in this particular history of time?"
"What Scripture is your Life Scripture that you stand on to fulfill that Life purpose?"
"When it is your time to cross back over into Eternity, did you complete your assignment according to the Scripture that is on your heart?"
To search out our own answers, let's look at Martin Luther's background that brought him to this defining moment of October 31, 1517 that changed history.
Martin Luther came into the world in the late 1400's with German parents that focused on how to climb the elite ladder of society of wealth, recognition, and education. This is where God placed him in His timeline of man's history. He didn't get to choose his parents, his culture, his gender, his life style, his religion, his language, or the country he would come into the world.
In the 1400-1500's of German history being Christian was simply being baptized by a church official to recognize your birth and give you a name that was written in the church legal documents. Often there was a money exchange or bartering donation given to the church official to be "Christianize." People didn't have access to Bibles, and if they even saw one they probably couldn't read it since it would be in Latin. German was the main language, but if one could speak Latin also, that was a passageway into the elite, educated society which also meant wealth.
Martin Luther's parents wanted the best for their son, but it came with a price of very little compassion, hugs, smiles, or laughter. Their parenting technique would be questioned in today's world as abusive with constant flogging to keep strict control and discipline to the toddler and young boy. When he was just under five years old he was sent away to school for nine-years with the same discipline seven days a week. He was not allowed to speak his native language, but only Latin. He was not allowed to leave the school or take time off from academics and chores, except to sleep and eat. Smiles, laughter, sharing a funny story, speaking German, or even having an opinion on anything were reasons for flogging. Children were to be seen only and not heard. Children were to obey their parents and elders in all things (Colossians 3:20) without questions. Creativity and curiosity in young children were not tolerated, especially during those two and three-year old's that were naturally trying to explore their environment. It was during their beginning childhood years that were most important to have strong control and authority over one's children. Flogging and disciplining was not considered an evil in Martin Luther's young age. "Spare the rod, and spoil the child" was the motto. "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" (Proverbs 13:24).
Martin Luther's father's desire was for his son to be a high society, well paid lawyer. This took being well educated in all academics, speak Latin fluently, and able to make sound decisions without any emotional connections. In his father's wisdom of this historical time his method was considered a loving pathway of parenting.
As Martin Luther grew to be a young man he recognized that his parents were not being cruel, but in their way taught by the church loving parents wanting the best for their son. There were no grudges or bitterness held by Martin as he attempted to follow his parent's guidance to be a lawyer. However, as happens for most people as they grow up to be adults, he had a life changing experience while alone in the middle of a thunderstorm. On his way back to the University he was attending after a visit with his parents, a massive thunderstorm came upon him and he had nowhere to take shelter. Loud crashing thunder and lightning bolts struck near him that he felt shake his body causing a fear of emotions he had never known before. He found himself praying to St. Anne, that if he stayed alive he would become a monk.
We've all had those kinds of prayers, but when the storm is over, we find ourselves renegotiating the emotional promises we made to God or whoever we were praying to while during that crisis. However, Marin Luther did not go that route. His experience awakened something deeper within his conscious. Something he became aware of that others his age were also beginning to question about themselves as he shared his experience with friends. He began to wonder if the pathway he was on was truly the purpose and calling of his life. Was his life journey about becoming a lawyer, making money, having an elite position in society? What truly was good? What truly was right?
This moment in his life journey to find answers to these questions caused him to take a different path willingly joining one of the strictest brotherhood of monks, but also considered to be outstanding theologians. Over the next 5-7 years as a young monk, Martin Luther is sent as a priest on several assignments and pilgrimages for the church of Rome. During this time, he also continued his college academics earning his bachelor's and master's degrees. In the summer of 1511 he was summoned to Wittenberg Castle Church where he became an undergraduate professor, while working on his Ph.D.
The challenge of knowing this "reader's digest" version of Marin Luther's life journey, is to recognize the bigger picture of how one life matters in history. Martin Luther's life was an ordinary life for an ordinary man during the late 1400's and early 1500's. For us today we would have lots of issues on child raising technique considered cruel and unusual punishment on children.
Each person ever created is a gift from God. It was God who chose the pathway of our ancestors He would bring us into the world through. It was God who chose what period of history we would come through. It was God who chose our gender, our siblings, our parents, our language, our country, etc. we would enter the world as a baby. It is God that says He knew us before we were conceived in our mother's womb. He knew our form BEFORE we were even conceived (Jeremiah 1:5). "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you". (Psalm 139:13-18).
Because of one Scripture that touched Martin Luther's heart, a new branch of Church history was formed called the Protestant faith. Remember, it was NOT his intent to start a new reformation in church history, but to simply get people to start thinking with a humble heart of unity and love of what really matters. When our life journey is finished, did we complete OUR race of OUR purpose based on being the rhema word of the WORD – Jesus Christ? When it's all said and done, we won't be asked if we were faithful to the denominational church we attended. We won't be asked how much money we gave to help the needed. What we may be asked is, "Did you give ME – LIFE, LOVE, and LIGHT- to the world?"
So, I'm asking you, what is your favorite Scriptures, and what impact do those Scripture have for you to bring a new season of reformation for the body of Christ?
For me personally I came into this world in a time when women can have a voice in leadership in the church. It has taken almost 2000 years for it to get here, but it's here now. For me, I read the end of the Bible where John writes in Revelation that it is the Spirit and the Bride that say come (Rev. 22:17). A few chapters before this it says that the church is to prepare HERSELF as a wife. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation. 19:7-8).
My experience as a female pastor with weddings and brides in preparation for the big day is totally different than the way the groom-to-be prepares. I began to question many years ago how male pastors where preparing their congregation to BE the bride of Christ for the return of the Lord? I would hear them teach of the coming of the Lord for His church to be raptured out of this world, but never teaching on how the church, as the bride-to-be, was to prepare herself for her bridegroom's coming. The best I would hear from male church leadership was to say a "sinner's pray," then be a "good" person by going to church, tithing, reading your Bible, and follow the ten commandments.
If I were to ask people and pastor's in the church community about preparing themselves as a bride without spot or wrinkle, they would consider it to be impossible because there is always the "sin nature" of the old Adam that is still resident. So basically, from the historical theological doctrine, the coming of the Lord for His bride is not a possibility, but just wishful thinking because the old Adam nature hasn't truly been dealt with in the heart of the church.
This brought questions in my spirit of what about, "As He is, so are we today in this world." (John 4:17)? What about when Paul says, "Today, you are a new creation in Christ in every way, the old man is gone, and you are all together new" (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
Yes, church, it is time for a new beginning, a new mindset, a new reformation of the church that is shedding their old ideas and traditions of end times, judgment, and the coming of the Lord as they prepare themselves as a Bride of Christ ready to take on His Name and Nature today in this world as His one body around the world.
Let October 31st be a new beginning of change for the Kingdom of God is Now. What are the Scriptures that define you to bring the Kingdom of God in the earth as bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh to rule as kings and priests for the King of Glory unveiling the glory of the Lord today?
What If the judgment seat of God was based on more than whether you said a "sinner's prayer," but did you sow seeds of Life, Love, and Light? Were you led by the Holy Spirit planting seeds of unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humbleness, and self-control into the lives of others? When God seeks you in the cool of the day to fellowship with, will He find you hanging around the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, or the Tree of Life? Selah