What are you willing to fight for? What are you willing to stand up for? To stand up and scream at the top of your lungs until someone listens? What, for you, is “worth the risk?” In our day and age, sometimes it seems as though there is little worth fighting for, because at this point we’re so certain that we won’t be heard, it feels as though it’s not really worth the time, energy, and the scratchy throats. Honestly? I’m not sure that many people these days feel like there’s anything worthy of that much effort. There is so much going on that everything has leveled out in terms of importance. When you have so much to balance, how on earth do you prioritize? You can’t, and so everything just hovers around mid-level importance, and there’s very little worth going to bat for. It’s simply the reality we live in…
498 years ago…that wasn’t the case. 498 years ago Martin Luther looked at the world he lived in, The Church he worshipped in, and he said that it was time to stand up, shout, fight and argue until he was blue in the face, hoarse in the throat, and exhausted down to the bone. He looked around at The Church he had grown up in, served in, dedicated his life to; and he saw it deteriorating into a means to make money at the expense of the poor and the lost. He saw The Church building itself up and erecting material kingdoms on earth, with very little worry about the kingdom of God, on earth or in heaven. He heard about people being in the “soul saving” business, who truly didn’t care one bit about the souls in their care. Now, Martin Luther wasn’t exactly a “somebody,” someone with influence and hordes of people behind him. He was one man, one lone voice, but he didn’t let that stop him.
Luther did everything he could to change the world he was living in. He wrote the 95 theses, explicitly stating the corruptions he saw in the church, and then he put them on doors of the Wittenberg Church to speak for themselves. He spent hours locked away in a castle, hiding from the government, and instead of wallowing in self-pity, he used that time to translate the Bible into German. This way, the average person could have access to the scriptures, could read them, and interpret them for themselves. He encouraged fellow monks and clergy who were following him to marry, and then went out and got married himself. He was brought before The Church government and was told that unless he recanted every single thing he had ever written he would be excommunicated, threatened with arrest and possibly death. He instead chose to stand up boldly and proudly and declare, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” He wouldn’t back down. He was willing to turn his back on everything he had ever known, risk everything he had, all because he had found something worth fighting for: his faith that God’s saving love and grace was all that mattered, his belief that good works didn’t earn you a spot in heaven – only Christ’s life-giving death on the cross could do that.
As Lutherans, this is our heritage. It is a heritage of risky faith, faith that clings to the gospel and the hope that in Christ alone we have eternal life. It is a heritage of speaking up when we see people being trodden underfoot and taken advantage of. It is a heritage of trusting that some things are worth fighting for. It is a heritage of wanting any and all who desire to participate in worship to do so. It is a heritage of understanding, realizing and embracing the fact that the church should always be reforming. It is a heritage of knowing it’s ok to question what is going on in the world, rather than just following blindly because that’s what has always been done. It is a heritage of putting our faith in God alone, and then going out and serving our neighbor to the best of our ability. Martin Luther found something worth fighting for and 498 years later, the Lutheran church is still here, still reforming, still striving to be better, to be more faithful, to be more dedicated servants. Happy Reformation month to you all. May the spirit of Martin Luther, his fire and his passion live on in you, the inheritors of his wonderful, difficult, risky faith.
Peace it Together,