Calling All ReformersFound in: Destiny in Bloom
Imagine with me that it’s a beautiful October 31 morning in the town of Wittenberg, Germany. The year is 1517, and there’s some guy out in front of the church with an old hammer in one hand, and he’s nailing something onto the door! Uh, isn’t he a monk?
This was no ordinary day. Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses onto the door of Castle Church; and with each echoing hit upon the nail, his conviction-filled words seeped further and further into the wood, sparking the beginning of what we now know to be the Protestant Reformation.
Reformation. Hmm, that’s a buzzword lately, but what exactly is it? By its simplest dictionary definition, it can be described as “correction and improvement; to better something.” Each year, on Reformation Day, I reflect on many of those from the past whose passionate pursuit of justice shaped the world we live in today.
Martin Luther’s efforts on that October morning were to address the sale of indulgences and other abuses occurring within the Catholic Church, among other things. Luther shook up political and religious reform that affected the whole world then and even now. He also translated the Bible into their native tongue, allowing all Germans to gain access to Scripture. (Disclaimer: I am not advocating all of his arguments, but simply highlighting his role as “Father of the Reformation.”)
Another world-changer was a bright and promising young gent by the name of William Wilberforce. In his late twenties, he encountered the saving grace of Jesus Christ and soon became gripped by the conviction to see a wave of reformation come to Britain’s bound: he was passionate about bringing freedom to the slaves! Coincidentally, his political career began on this very day: October 31. Wilberforce spent years and years devoted to the complete abolition of slavery, and he died just three days after Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. His influence went beyond the British borders; it affected other nations too.
At the height of World War II, a quiet, mild-mannered twenty-one-year-old Protestant German girl stood before the People’s Court in Munich; she was charged with high treason and penalized with death. Sophie Scholl never once let go of her hope for a better Germany, one not silenced and suffocated with fear by the Nazi regime and their hateful, murderous schemes; she dreamed of an awakening amongst her native people. Sophie worked a covert operation with her brother and friends, a student-led movement known as the “White Rose,” which dispersed written pamphlets all over the country, exposing the truth about Hitler and his regime.
On February 22, 1943, Sophie was beheaded by order of the court. Once students and citizens across the nation uncovered the truth about her unusually quick trial and brash punishment, the strong wave of resistance that the White Rose movement had hoped for began. Her death is strongly tied to the awakening amongst the German people that Sophie had dreamed about for years.
When I think about the Martin Luthers and William Wilberforces and Sophie Scholls of the past, I get absolutely elated because so many of these reformers were young people! In their 20’s and 30’s, these folks made drastic impacts on their generations and the ones that followed. Wow! Their influence crossed state and country lines, it leapt over cultural barriers, and is told about in storybooks and movies. Their legacies will live forever.
It screams out to me that there are reformers amongst us, too.
It’s never too early or too late to begin making a difference. There are Martins and Williams and Sophies amongst us who possess great conviction to see school systems reformed, to see the economy and various systems within our government corrected by implementing kingdom principles, and to see leaders elected who hold a righteous worldview. There are those who have vision to see reformation in the family, to see marriages absolutely flourish. There are others who believe in creating a new wave of fashion, marked by modesty and a healthy value of oneself. The culture we live in has, for so long, been shaped within the hands of the corrupt. I dream of the day when faith-possessing men and women come out of hiding and begin to bring waves of reformation into various aspects of our society!
Have you ever felt like your voice, by itself, was small? As if you couldn’t make a difference? I’d like to submit to you that you do have a voice–a powerful one! And, as the Spirit of God resides within you, you have the authority to bring reformation into the world around you in a unique way, whenever you speak forth and live out His truth.
I once read about a young girl who, after being orphaned, was cared for by a relative. In her culture, she didn’t have many options; however, she was a gorgeous, head-turning type of gal. Through divine favor, she made her way into the palace, amongst a slew of other stunning girls, and the king chose her as his queen. (I am totally paraphrasing an incredible story here. It is a must-read!)
Esther was the underdog. She had been dealt a bad hand; and yet, the Lord raised her up to a place of massive influence because of her purity of heart. Her hour had come. While political corruption was threatening the future fate of her people, she went before the king and, in a risky attempt that could’ve ended her life, Esther rescued the Jews from death. It was a Spirit-led “for such a time as this” moment, and Esther brought reformation to her nation by remaining obedient to God and exposing the wickedness in her land.
God loves to use the underdogs. He does it all throughout the scriptures. I think He does it because it brings Him more glory, and He does it to show us that no one is too far gone to be used to change the world. He loves using the screw-ups to shame the wise. Yay! That means there’s hope for all of us! I’ve screwed up a lot; how about you?
Lately, my spirit has been stirred to change the world, to take life by the horns and run with it! I want to be a twenty-first century abolitionist who passionately pursues the heart of God, impacting people in the shopping mall, or the gas station. I desire for the love of Jesus inside me to permeate my every conversation and interaction with others so that they are struck with curiosity and wonder at why my demeanor is so full of hope and love, so full of life.
Every single one of us has special gifts and callings; the dreams of God are blossoming inside of us and He is just waiting for us to say yes to them. We all carry seeds of reformation; we were created to influence the world around us! We were made to be salt and light!
Whether you are the underdog or the successful CEO, you, my friend, were made to be a reformer too. Are you a school teacher? Are you a stay-at-home mom? Maybe you work at a grocery store or a library. I challenge you today to ask the Lord where you might be used to affect society in such a way so that it will never, ever be the same again.
Will you stand for truth, at the risk of your reputation, like Martin Luther?
Will you devote your life to championing justice and freedom, like William Wilberforce?
Will you give your life for the sake of your generation, like Sophie Scholl?
Will you accept the call to be a reformer?
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the boogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” ― Sophie Scholl
(Originally Published in www.destinyinbloom.com)