Tuesday we celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It was 500 years ago an Augustinian Monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg Germany. It was a small protest against the corruption in the church that has had ripple effects that are still being felt today. Many people argue that what Luther started was not good because it has created disunity in the church but the more you read scripture, the more you read Luther, and the more you realize that the Reformation was a clarification of the gospel far more than a reputation of the church of Rome.
We needed reformation then and we certainly need reformation today. So I thought it would be helpful to tackle a few of Luther’s 95 Theses that have particular relevance for us as well as for the kids we teach.
- #1 When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent”, he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance. – This is fundamental and primary. Kids need to know what repentance is and how their lives should be marked by the daily practice of repentance. Kids that don’t understand their need for repentance will never experience the sufficiency of Christ in His lavish forgiveness. More than ever our kids need to see repentance modeled to them and need to be called regularly to repentance.
- #92 Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people “Peace, peace” and there is no peace. – Our culture and sadly many even within the church are preaching and prophesying that the highest goal of Christian life is peace and personal happiness. This is a pernicious cancer in the very fabric of Christian life. To seek joy is a very different thing than pursuing happiness. Joy is understood in scripture as being founded in the person of Christ. It is Incorruptible because it is found in Christ who is eternal. Happiness is a feeling, it is personal it is undefinable, it is easily lost because we are fickle and this life is fleeting.
- #93 Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no Cross! – The life of a believer is seen most clearly by what he or she puts their trust in. Where do they turn when life takes it’s inevitable and devastating turns. The message our kids need to hear over and over is not you can make it, you can do it but the counter-cultural message of cling to the cross of Christ. Run to Jesus. Happiness is a temporal feeling and joy is an eternal person. Our kids are growing up in a very different America than we did. We must avoid the factional traps of both political parties and preach orthodoxy over conservatism or liberalism. Our kids must hear us preach the cross and they must see us bear our cross daily in following Christ. A faith that is casual has nothing to do with the cross. Suffering is not something we look for but when it comes how we react is very telling. We must train our kids to suffer well.
- #62 The true Treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. – The sad reality of America is the higher the stock market soars the more things we acquire the greater our poverty increases. What we must fight for in our children’s lives is for Christ to be their treasure. That they see the glory of the gospel of God’s grace towards us in Christ. One is the scariest verses for me is found in Matthew 6:21 Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”Jesus points out that the place we choose for our treasures tells something about ourselves. He does not describe treasure in any way, but clearly, it means here that which one prizes most, that which one values above all else. The place where we choose to store up what we value most shows what our values are deep down.”Leon MorrisWe treasure what we love. How many times do I love the gracious gifts more than the gift giver? How often do I seek to obtain what I feel I deserved what I feel I have earned that can only be given as a gift.
The call of the reformers was Semper Reformanda which means always reforming. The reformers realized that once they saw the gospel, it was a moment of time they could point back to, but they life they now lived was one of perpetual reformation by the Spirit of God. The reality is 500 years later and we still need reformation. Our hearts drift to works righteousness. Our heart longs for a happiness of its own. Our will resists the call to lay down our life and pick up our cross. Our kids will not stand in the face of the cultural tsunami laying waste to the western world if they don’t learn repentance, to find their joy in God, or the power of suffering well. My prayer is that as a pastor and father I model these well and never cease from calling the church to the reformation of the heart. That hundreds of years from know we would be know for our faithfulness more than our flash. That we would daily remember our need for empowering grace and living in daily gratitude for saving grace.
Sola Deo Gloria