Who do you obey? Who is your leader? Those were important questions for us Oct. 31, a day known as “Reformation Day.”
There is nothing in the Bible about Reformation Day, since it was set in remembrance of a day 1,500 years after the time of the Bible, the day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his “95 theses” on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
When he posted those theses (points for discussion and debate), Martin Luther rejected the idea that we ought to just be quiet and simply obey what church leaders say. Instead, he put his voice to work echoing the voice of Jesus, calling the church leaders to reject anything that was opposed to the Word of God.
My prayer is that the people of my church would do the same. I pray that each one would have the same tenacity and spunk that Martin Luther had, that they would not follow me or any other spiritual leader, but that they would each hear Jesus’ voice and, when they think I or any other leaders are wrong, that they would speak out, either publicly, as Martin Luther did, or that they would go to their leader personally as Jesus outlines in Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”
Martin Luther didn’t have the ability to speak personally with his spiritual leader. The Roman Catholic church was set up in such a way that there was only one leader, and he was far away in the city of Rome. Therefore, Martin Luther dared to speak and write publicly. He did not just whisper his criticisms to others, he boldly spoke out. What a wonderful example! I am so thankful for him and for all who follow that courageous example, even in my local church.
It could be that you are hearing Jesus’ voice more clearly than your pastor. It could be that your local or national spiritual leaders are wrong about something. God is so gracious that he does not immediately reject those leaders, but instead speaks to them through other Christians. God often uses “ordinary” people like you to bring correction and admonition. Please do not remain silent when God speaks!
Could you be wrong about your criticism? Absolutely! But there should be no fear in being wrong. We have God’s written Word to help us. Bring your criticism, either publicly like Luther, or privately. And then let us sit down together with the Word of God to discern the truth. And let’s be loving and patient with each other on the way.
That’s what Reformation Day is all about.