On October 31, 1517 a Catholic priest and academic professor by the name of Martin Luther posted a written response to the sale of indulgences by the Church. His intent was simply to do something about what he believed was corruption in the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t trying to become the center of a revolution or start a movement. In fact, he was surprised by the massive uprising his writings inspired. His belief when he wrote “The 95 Theses” was that the Church should take a look at the differences between the writings of scripture and its own behavior. His hope was that his ideas would be honestly discussed and used by people of influence to bring the Body of Christ more in line with the teachings of Christ. The result, however, was the Protestant Reformation.
In the months and years that followed his controversial posting, massive social and theological upheavals changed the world forever. Many people quickly sided with Luther and demanded that the Church reform itself, others took it a step further and claimed that the Church was beyond reform and left to form new ‘protestant’ congregations, and the Church itself was forced to look within for answers to questions it didn’t want to ask. Passions were inflamed, blood was shed, mistakes were made on all sides, and in the end Luther was forced to leave the Catholic Church—a move he hadn’t foreseen and a consequence he didn’t intend. Ultimately, however, millions were brought into closer fellowship with Christ as they wrestled with deep issues of faith and trust in God and man.
Today, between Catholics and Protestants, there are over a billion people who claim to be followers of Christ. And we disagree on some truly vital theological principles, principles that should not be ignored. One thing upon which we all agree, however, is that there is no room for corruption in the Kingdom of God. Give thanks today for people like Martin Luther who take issue with sin in the Church, and consider your own life as well. Corruption in the Church starts with sin in the individual. What do you need to reform today?