2017 is the 500th year since what is known in Western history as The Great Reformation.
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door and figuratively lit a match to the state of the Church of his time, challenging it to get back to the condition God had planned for it; it started changes in the Church which impacted the world and has since affected every nation and led to the formation of all we now call the “modern world.”
At its core, the Reformation was about how man sees God, the meaning of creation, and man’s place in it. It aimed at issues far beyond just the reforming of practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Its theological implications laid the groundwork for changes yet to be experienced and fully deployed even today. It proved its true historical breadth by the effects it had on Christians, the Church, society, economics, national political identity; it also addressed the future challenges of the uneasy relationship between political activity and the role of theology in the management of nations. It literally redirected history.
On the edge of such an almost-cosmic event today ?
The redemptive work of Christ is the “cosmic” event, which changed the course of world history in the first place. It includes not only a (the) plan to save individuals but also the founding of his Church; his Body is called to demonstrate Him, his love, his mercy and his presence in this world but also to be his emissaries and representatives (sent ones) on earth bringing a demonstration of his coming Kingdom to this lost world; quite a challenge for the Church, as it was for Israel, which by the way is not excluded from God’s redemptive plan; if only they would use the same door of salvation, Jesus the Messiah, a Jew, given to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles.
The redemptive work of Christ is by large and happily accepted in the Church worldwide and that’s how it should be. A big problem remains though ; how should the Church proclaim and manifest the Gospel of the Kingdom in this “secularized-humanistic-pleasure seeking-egotistical-rebellious-violent and idolatrous” world? No easy task but a commanded one, nonetheless.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Matthew 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
That’s where those called of God to face this situation and to challenge the status quo have to come into play. God is re-ordering his affairs as it were (He has always done it in the past) in order to equip his Church to be a more valid and more powerful voice and witness in this world; this requires the same type of anointing/qualifications Christ possesses as the great Apostle-Prophet-Evangelist-Sheperd-Rabbi/teacher and he distributes those qualifications/callings as he wishes.
Eph 4:11-13 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Of course traditions, confessions, denominations and Church history comes in this picture with all its riches but also it’s weight. They should not be put ignored but sometimes God uses unusual ways to challenge a seemingly unchangeable state of affairs; remember David and Goliath ?
1 Sam. 17:36-40 "Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you."
Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor.
David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them." And David took them off.
He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine.
David took off and set aside the state of the art armor, in use at this time, which he was proposed to fight with and settled for a better known, less sophisticated approach (his sling) and especially his faith in Almighty God. The rest is history.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.…
What model should we be looking for ? How is the Church supposed to fufill it’s missionary role ? How are the Eph. 4 ministries supposed to function with the best possible efficience ?
This is where the new Apostolic-prophetic reformation has to come in, bringing a new measure of faith, inspiration, courage, zeal, know-how and wisdom the Church is in need of to face today’s challenges.
Let us all bring, in each specified area, sphere of human activity (big or small) this manifestation, deployment of Davidic faith and courage and we will yet see what our God is capable of in terms of acts of liberation, salvation, healing, power, re-ordering of what first seems impossible to change.
Martin Luther had no idea of the ripple effect of his taking a stand nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door; but this was a powerful beginning of a world changing process; what can be accomplished in our lives, in our ministries, in our world today, if we draw from his example, is yet to be told. The truth is marching on!