Saturday, January 21, 2006
The Original Martin Luther
I began this week by looking at Martin Luther King, Jr. I close it by looking at the original Martin Luther.
What is impressive to me about Martin Luther, flawed saint and hero of the Protestant Reformation, is the utter fear he had of a holy God. Prior to his conversion, he wrote, he nearly killed himself with vigils, prayers, and self-abuse, all in an effort to atone for his sins. He was not content, as his superiors insisted, to "relax" about his relationship to God. How could he relax before a holy, just, all seeing God?
It was only when Luther discovered the gospel, that our sins could be forgiven through Jesus' sacrifice (not ours!), that he found rest. It was this discovery that led to the Reformation. It also explains why Luther had such boldness in the face of his enemies -- he feared God so much, he had flushed the fear of others out of his system. His confidence revealed that he knew God's opinion was really all that mattered.
Certainly Luther had his flaws. But we live in a different age, with its own flaws, and can certainly learn from some of his strengths.
Most urgently: Where do we find rest? Are we "relaxed" before God because we figure he's a nice Grandpa in the sky -- or because we have found sure footing for our forgiveness in Jesus Christ?
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" ... And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (From Isaiah 6)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Jesus, from Matthew 11)
Posted by Ken at 9:41 AM