Still Reforming After All These Years

Still Reforming After All These Years

Reformation is a process.  This is true for nations and for the Church. 

Recent events in Virginia, the very place where Thomas Jefferson long ago penned words about freedom and about all people being seen equally in the eyes of the Creator, remind us that reformation is an ongoing process.  Jefferson himself held slaves as he was writing those history altering words in the 1770s.

Though many political reforms that early American colonists wished for came to fruition, there was still work to do: slaves would not be freed for another century, women would not be guaranteed the right to vote in the U.S. for a century and a half, and deliberations about the roles of religion and politics in the U.S. is still an ongoing conversation over 240 years after the Declaration of Independence was written; after all these years.

Reformation is a process.  This is true for nations and for the Church.

In 1517, Martin Luther’s posting of 95 Theses (statements that he felt the Church needed to discuss in more detail due to what he saw as a misrepresentation of Scripture) sparked a movement that has ongoing effects even 500 years later.  However, we must remember that even the early reformers of the Church (the “Magisterial Reformers”) often persecuted other Bible-believing Christians (the Anabaptists, for instance) who took a different route to reformation. 

As reforms continued well into the nineteenth century, 400 years after Luther’s bold declarations, the Church still found itself in need of more reform in regard to its approach on issues such as slavery, war, the treatment of the poor, and other aspects of justice.  In fact, many of these same issues trouble the Church and its members to this very day. 

What is the state of reformation today? 

The answer likely lies in the call of God issued through the prophet Isaiah: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).  Jesus links this turning with a kind of rest that can only be found in Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The call to reformation continues today, and it is a call for all of us to return to the ways of the loving God who made us.  It is a call to find the rest that comes when we turn to God through His son Jesus Christ.  His ways of loving, of valuing those created in His image, of caring for those who are neglected, of loving our enemies, and of speaking the truth in love, are at the heart of real reform. 

Where is God reforming us this week?  Where can we be a voice of reform in our communities and beyond?  The invitation to return, to rest in God’s truth and peace, are just as near to us now as in the days when the invitation to reform was first given.

Prayer for the Week:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.  Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
(from Psalm 51)

Charles W. Christian is Managing Editor for Holiness Today

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today, August 2017

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