Dear Brothers & Sisters,
On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and started a reform movement that left an indelible mark on the church and the world. This past Sunday, churches around the world remembered the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. If you missed the message, I gave an overview of the history and significance of this event in a sermon entitled, The Emerging Reformation.
As the title suggests, I also invited us to consider what a new reformation might look like in our time, and what I think is already emerging through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard my friend Greg Boyd say on multiple occasions that in all of his work around the world he believes God is initiating “a kingdom revolution that will make the Protestant Reformation look like a hiccup” in human history.
I admit that this gets me excited and makes me nervous all at the same time. As I pointed out in my message, there comes a cost to participate in an event of this magnitude. For the time being, we need not worry and fear what may come, but we should instead draw near to the Lord and be faithful with our lives. And pray that the church will emerge from the refining fire looking more like Christ than ever before.
Most of us sense that changes are needed. But for that “rummage sale” to occur and for the church to enter into a post-Christendom age, we must all repent of where we’ve not let Christ be Lord of our lives, including our misguided perspectives on the Bible, politics, culture, etc. This is hard, I know. There is a reason why Jesus says that the gate is small and the way is “narrow” that leads to life (Matt 7:13-14).
I’m reminded of the Protestant reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, who was only willing to go so far in his ideas of reform. Some of his students, who agreed that the church needed to change, challenged him to let go of the sword and reject the marriage of church and state (Christendom).
Unfortunately, it was too much for him. The imperial church had been operating this way for over a thousand years. Zwingli couldn’t imagine a church that didn’t use the sword and political power to advance her causes. He agreed with his students in almost every way except on this issue, which was a radical idea to be sure.
It was unthinkable for many people. It sounded so extreme and “upside-down” to Zwingli that it kept him from joining his students in their cause. So, they came to an impasse. Those students went on to become the first to be re-baptized and identified as the Swiss Anabaptists. Zwingli, their teacher and brother in Christ, would turn on them and become their enemy for his unwillingness to embrace a peaceable kingdom.
It’s difficult to reexamine our lives, our thinking, and change directions. Especially if we’ve been passionate about the wrong things and lived that way for some time. But we can do it together.
I pray that we’re a church that follows the Spirit wherever he leads us in the future. And may we always uphold the love of God and our neighbor (even our enemies) as the highest law, worthy of our obedience. I encourage you to give this some thought as we remember the Reformation and how we’re being called into a bigger story of God’s eternal purpose through a church that looks like Jesus.
Finally, I want to invite you to join me this Wednesday night at 6:15 p.m. in the sanctuary. As I announced on Sunday, I’d like us to have a casual meeting so that I can share a bit about where we’ve been in the last year and a half, as well as where I believe God wants to take us in the new year. It’s an opportunity for you to hear my heart and for me to hear from you as well. What do you see God doing in our church? What are your hopes and dreams for Grantham? I hope you can join us after Eat & Run for a brief time of sharing what God is doing in our congregation.
May God continue to bless Grantham Church.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. Missions Sunday 2017 – Don’t forget that this Sunday is our annual Missions Sunday. We will start our day with a special combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall and return to the Fellowship Hall for a meal after the worship service. Please take some time this week to prayerfully consider what you might give during our special Ingathering Offering to support 5 missions initiatives: Forgotten Voices, youth ministry & theological training in Spain, Tony & Veronica Beers, and our missionaries – Liza H, Bruce & Merly Bundy, and Jonathan & Becky Owen.
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