This week many people in the Christian church noted the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Back in 1517, the Catholic Church was selling indulgences—basically sending the message that for the right amount of cash, you could buy forgiveness. On October 31, a man named Martin Luther posted 95 statements on a church door in Germany, highlighting why some of the practices of the day weren’t found in the Bible—and challenging anyone to debate him on these points.
Now that we are at the beginning of the next 500 years, we could use a personal reformation. This is a chance to look at the things we think or say or believe that aren’t in the Bible—and post statements on the door of our hearts to remind us exactly how we receive grace.
Reform your guilt
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should feel guilty for our sins, repent, then feel guilty again and again and again. But we do that, don’t we? When Jesus died on a cross and said, “It is finished,” he didn’t mean, “Your sins are paid for, so how about you keep feeling bad about them?” That’s not what finished means. So what do you do when the guilt creeps up on you?
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!’”—Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel
Reform your fear
While having a holy respect for the Almighty God is healthy, being afraid of the God who calls you his child is not. This is the Father who gave up his only Son to make you part of his family. He loves you and wants you to have an abundant life. He is not lurking around the corner trying to make you live in fear of getting caught.
“Good God, what do you think it means that he has given his only Son? It means that he also offers whatever else he possesses. We have no reason, therefore, to fear his wrath.”—Martin Luther, American Edition 54:17
Reform your identity
Jesus performed the greatest reformation on the cross. He re-formed us from enemies of the Father to treasured children. Still, every day we wake up and it’s easy to forget whose we are and how we got that way. We think we are defined by our income or intelligence, our relationships or possessions, our sense of humor or physical abilities. But while those are all gifts from God, those are not what defines us or earns God’s favor.
“Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved.”—Martin Luther
Today, and every day, is an opportunity to celebrate your re-formation.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor. She learned about Martin Luther in first grade, thanks to flannelgraph.