I am reading a biography of Marty (Martin) Luther for my church history class. What an interesting dude. Luther came from a poor but hard-working peasant family. His father desperately wanted him to become a lawyer, but instead, he was struck by lightning and took it as a sign to become a monk instead, much to the displeasure of his dad. (at this point, I was wondering if Luther was actually an Asian boy born to demanding immigrant parents) For years, he tried with all of his might to live a Godly, moral life. He spent all his time praying, fasting, reading the bible. He attended Catholic mass and confessed his sins to priests about every little sin he could think of. Yet, he was tormented by the fact that no matter how hard he tried, he knew that even his attempts at becoming good actually just revealed how selfish he was: he wasn’t truly good for goodness' sake, he was just trying to be good to appease a righteous God and avoid hell. All of this led him to a great awakening in his life: that perhaps the Scriptures actually taught that the Christian life wasn’t about trying to be good…but perhaps that a life of faith was actually about admitting he could never be good and constantly trusting, believing and depending on a God who had died for him who had already made him completely acceptable before God; and being transformed from the inside out as a result.
Although today’s world is much different from Luther’s 1500s world, I can’t help but think of the nominal Christianity of America. Don’t most American Christians think Christianity is really just about becoming a better person and going to church so that hopefully their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds and they make it to heaven? Here are Luther’s words:
“You Lord Jesus are my righteousness, but I am your sin; you have taken on yourself what you were not and have given me what I was not.” (Luther’s prayer)
“The Christian life does not consist of being but of becoming, not of victory but the fight, not of righteousness but of justification [being declared righteous], not of comprehending but of stretching forward, not of purity but of purification.”
“The law says ‘do this!’ and it is never done. Grace says ‘believe in this man!’ and immediately everything is done.”