October 31st was the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. We are not sure if the famous story of Martin Luther posting his ninety-five theses to the church door actually happened. If it did, he was not doing so out of anger or protest, but in an attempt to start and academic discussion (this was one way they did such things in those days). What we do know is Martin Luther sent off his nintey-five theses to his archbishop on October 31, 1517. And this has become the recognized start-date of the Protestant Reformation.
At the heart of this Reformation was the matter of faith. As the Phillip Cary states, for Martin Luther faith “means turning away from our experience to take hold of Christ alone by believing, against all doubt and temptation, that what the Gospel tells us about Christ given for us is really true.”
Notice that faith does not vanquish doubt and temptation, it stands “against” them. Doubts and temptations are part of this life – but their power is resisted and undermined by faith in Christ. (And this is not just a wonderful Protestant insight, it is truly a universal Christian teaching.) Faith therefore is a daily thing and a life long thing. It is a gift of the Lord to his children.
Reforming is then something we are called to – faith (re)forms us into the person God calls us to be. And this is at the heart of church life and ministry. As we gather together for fellowship and carry out ministry work let us always do so in the spirit of the Gospel, in the strength, wisdom, and kindness that comes from faith in Jesus.