Lessons from Luther

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The legacy of Martin Luther is embedded in the public consciousness through the value of the individual, freedom of worship, and authority of the scriptures. Luther himself did not start the Lutheran church. He had no dealings with the long and warring history of the Reformation and counter reformation. There is much that I did not know about the history and thoughts of Martin Luther until I watched the PBS movie (Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World).

In the footsteps of Abraham

For years I wanted to walk in the footsteps of the patriarch Abraham. I wanted the faith of Abraham, the wisdom of Abraham, as well as  the promises and covenants given to Abraham. In short, I felt that Abraham practiced a religion that did not resemble the idolatries of his day. His relationship with the one true God was firm and powerful.

But I am constrained in this effort by history and circumstances. The entire Old Testament outlines the history of Abraham’s descendants through their captivity in Egypt, their exodus out of Egypt, their conquest of the promised land, their many adventures with kings and prophets, and their final rebuke in the diaspora. History has also damaged the legacy of Abraham through Tertullian and Emperor Constantine. For a thousand years, the Roman Catholic Church held political and religious power over Europe while the Byzantine empire did much the same in the middle east and eastern Europe.

Martin Luther became for me a more modern mentor to help me in my Christian walk.

Vocation

The first lesson from Luther for me was about vocation and serving God. Ever since I was born again, I have wanted to fulfill God’s will for my life. I would pray and ask him what he wanted me to do. Through years and years of growing and learning, my confidence has grown that I now know what God wants of me.

Although I tried to follow the career path of a cleric/preacher, all my avenues in that direction became blocked. I finally settled down to a secular career, earning a living and continuing to pursue God’s will. Luther has ennobled the vocations and ordinary lives of people. He himself married and raised a family and worked with his hands. He emphasized that through faith in Jesus Christ, we are assured of our own salvation and we must allow Christ to serve us while we serve our fellow man.

What God wants

Here is what God wants of us. To love God with our whole heart and to love (and serve) our neighbor. Only action can verify our service to our neighbor. Only in helping those around us who need help can we actually fulfill God’s will. No longer is it enough to go to church and pat myself on the back. No longer can true Christians attend church as if it were a social club for the chosen. Only in serving others can we truly be known by our love.