“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
I was somewhat surprised earlier this month as I drove past one of my neighbors. They had already totally decorated their yard to get ready for Halloween. Mind you, this was not just some sort of simple pumpkin in the front yard, but an entire transformation. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like Halloween is becoming a bigger holiday each year. More and more people are spending time and money on this silly, pagan holiday. I am not sure what this says about our culture these days, but is certainly is not good from a Christian perspective for many reasons.
As I looked at my calendar for the month of October, I couldn’t help but notice that “Reformation Day” is on October 31, the same day as Halloween. Scholars are not entirely agreed on how the two days connected in history. However, I do believe it points to something important for us to consider about our faith and changes in American society and the Church in general.
The great reformer, Martin Luther used October 31 as a day to post his “Ninety-Five Thesis” on a church door in Germany to protest various spiritual abuses by the Catholic Church. Luther had been set free of these abuses as a result of his study of the Bible and his revelation of God’s grace to him in the gospel. Luther’s freedom in Christ launched a movement that we are a part of today and changed the course of Western Civilization.
The specific thing Luther discovered came from a correct understanding of Romans 1:17 listed above. Luther understood that the Lord was NOT looking for his righteousness, but instead wanted him to have Christ’s righteousness instead. In writing about this discovery of grace Luther wrote, “Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself though open gates. There a totally other face of Scripture showed itself to me.”
Luther’s discovery of the transforming grace of God was shared by many other people in his day and eventually become the Reformation. Few events in history had such a profound effect on the lives of men and women as the Reformation. America was founded as a fruit of the Reformation period. Hundreds of books have been written to try and assess its impact on the world.
The surprise about “Reformation Day” is that few know or even care about it anymore. I think you would find few people in the Church today who could tell you much about it one way or another. Reformation Day has really ended up just another date on the calendar like Valentine’s or Ground Hog Day. It really has little impact on the way we live or what we think about. Few Catholics or Protestants could even explain to you what the Reformation was or when it happened.
Let’s return, if we might, to my neighbor’s front yard. The messages of that front yard and the growing size of Halloween in America are simple. If we don’t know the Lord, all of us will eventually drift into paganism sooner or later. Sadly, that is direction of America today. We are moving deeper and deeper into paganism as we leave our Christian heritage and roots behind. All of this is happening right before our eyes, but few see it and even fewer will speak about it. After all, who likes to talk about paganism anyway? Isn’t everyone a good person?
The good news for us on October 31, is that there is GOOD NEWS to discover and celebrate. Have you discovered the meaning of grace for your life? Have you ever shared it with others? What is your understanding of Romans 1:17? Those are the real questions of the Reformation. We can never give away something we haven’t found for ourselves. If we lose sight of God’s love and grace we will get drawn into our cultural holidays, no matter what they are in the future. When we know the Lord and His goodness, we have something to share with others that can make a real impact on our world.
Here’s to the Reformation. Here’s to Martin Luther . Here’s to all the men and women who died to make sure it at least got on the calendar. The rest is up to us, their spiritual descendants. Let’s celebrate the Lord and His grace to us …………and let’s forget decorating the yard.
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