I have been reading “ten boys who changed the world” to my son at bedtime (he has fallen asleep as i read to him, so its been a great book!)
I had been thinking i know very little about the reformation apart from what i knew of Martin Luther, i kinda liked! In the book, it describes events in the lives of these men that formed their beliefs and linked to their attitudes later in life.
- Augustine of Hippo discovered the love of God and changed the way we think;
- John Knox focused on God’s word and told his country the truth;
- Martin Luther rediscovered God’s truth and gave it to ordinary people;
- John Calvin realised that salvation was a gift from God and not a reward for what he did.
- William Tyndale longed to print the Bible in a language that everyone would understand;
- Hugh Latimer (who i hope and wished was an actual ancestor of mine) urged people to read the Bible for themselves and made enemies as a result;
- Hus taught that God is in charge of the church and the world;
- Zwingli challenged people to obey God’s word in every area of their lives;
- Thomas Chalmers called the church to show Christ’s compassion to the poor and
- Lord Shaftesbury pushed the church into making Christ’s love a living reality for everyone
But have things changed? Is there still room for another reformation? The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t have that much control any more (unless there is a conspiracy i do not know about?) England and other countries have their own church “structures”, they are not asking for money for artifacts and “indulgences” or convincing the un-educated that unless they believe what the church teaches, they will spend eternity in purgatory, there is still a fair amount of work to be done!
Lord Shaftesbury and Thomas Chalmers realised that the church needed to be a source of God’s love and support for those who were impoverished, uneducated, homeless, malnourished and mistreated. They fought for laws and work to take place, to respond to those in need. Because of Shaftesbury, there are better working conditions, children are not working long hours, expected to do dangerous, unhealthy work. But the statistics of child poverty on this site are still shocking, is it general selfishness? Is it apathy from believers and non-believers? Is it just that we each are all happy in our own “castle” until life throws a cannonball into it and we realise that we need help too?
The Anglican church for example, has an outgoing of £900 million, but assets of £6.7 billion! I know it isnt the only denomination in the UK, and who knows what the finances are of the individual churches. But as churches own so much land and buildings in poor condition. surely as Christ suggests in Matthew 25:35-45 we will be asked
- Did you feed the hungry?
- Did you clothe the naked?
- Did you provide shelter for the homeless?
- Did you visit the sick/imprisoned?
- Did you welcome the stranger?
As Jesus will say “what you did to the least of these you did for me!”, there are stories in the bible, of random strangers appearing, seeking refuge or hospitality, for the host to only realise later that it was an angel!
I wrote a while ago about taking time out and giving it to someone in need, a church leader failed to give a stranger the time and respect they were due, as they had a homeless demeanour and the leader was busy! If our actions do not echo Christ’s attitude, then how can we expect people to listen or respect what we say!? We are nothing but a clanging cymbal!
My friend was told to cover up his tattoo, in case it offended someone, I was fuming when I heard this! He is a great guy, he may not have been baptised or made a “confession of faith” but his willingness to help those in need and caring nature puts some of the “christians” i know to shame. People seem to have forgotten how imperfect we all are, everyone is a sinner and fallen short of what we are meant to be, the only difference is that if you know jesus then you should know better!
The Reformation, appeared to be a “reawakening”, men and women of faith and truth, wanting the whole world to know the good news, untainted by poor translation and deliberate misleading by priests and those who wanted to use the bible to control the masses! The curtain to the holy of holies was torn in two as Jesus said “it is finished”, we need no priest or intercessor to come to God, he ripped away the barriers and gave us the Holy Spirit to help us!
Not all of us are going to have to die for our beliefs, sometimes i wonder how long it will be until the UK has christians being told “deny or die” “be converted or be killed!” My belief in God’s love and faithfulness cannot be shaken, and people have unconsciously tested that! However, it is time for us all to awaken again and respond to the call of god to feed the hungry, help the widowed and orphans as there are more mentions of the word “widow” than the word “sin”, so its not rocket science what our daily existence should revolve around!