A friend is over in Germany right now “following in the footsteps of Martin Luther.” He’s on a ten-day tour of the places that made the Lutheran Reformation the single greatest movement that changed the world forever. The Lutheran Reformation wasn’t just an act that changed the Christian Church by releasing the Gospel from its captivity, but it ended up being the impetus that reestablished the importance of nations instead of a vast Empire.
The Reformation celebrates its 500th anniversary this coming October, and plenty of Lutherans from around the globe are pilgrimaging to Germany to stand in the stead of Luther and the early Lutheran Church leaders. People who have taken one of these trips come back with a sense of awe in seeing the earthly foundations of the Lutheran Church. The inspiration they gather from walking the streets of Wittenburg is seen on their faces.
But I have a question:
What good is a trip to Germany to see the place where Luther walked and nailed the 95 Theses to the church door if when you come back and don’t want to do what Luther did five centuries ago? Luther’s actions freed the Gospel and made it relevant in the lives of Christians. He showed the importance of the active faith that trusts in God and the work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls.
Today, many of our churches are struggling under the burdens of small numbers in the pews and lack of resources to expand ministries. Our Synod always seems to spend more time debating how to punish people than how to help local congregations develop their ideas and ministries so that the Gospel of Jesus can reach individuals who are without faith.
I have this belief that if Martin Luther were alive today, he would cry at the state of our churches and implore us to be better.
Look around – there are too many souls without a Good Shepherd. We, the Church, must do better.