lutherOn my day-off yesterday, I watched a great movie called ‘Luther’. It’s about the German priest who in the 16th Century turned the institutional church – and in the process the whole of Europe – upside down. He had lived a life full of guilt as he tried to appease God, who he secretly thought of as angry, judgmental and unfair.

Then he made an amazing discovery as he read the bible; that the God of the bible is gracious and loving. That He wants a direct relationship with us, not mediated by priests or institutions. And that we cannot buy or qualify for our salvation but it is freely given as we come in submission to Him. Luther’s discovery began what has been referred to as ‘the Reformation’. And put him in direct collision with the church, which had thrived on the business of being a mediator of God’s mysteries to the people and had ended up instead being a barrier to their faith.

One of the important things Luther did was to translate the bible into German so that the ordinary person could read God’s word for themselves. He also put biblical words to popular bar-tunes so people could sing them in church. You see in those days, the bible and church were in Latin which only the priests knew, and people in a sense paid up so the priests could appease the mysterious God for them. Reading God’s word for themselves freed people to have direct access to God! The results rippled through the church and went out beyond to change all of society. Politics, business, education, and the arts would never be the same. Concepts like democracy and scientific enquiry can be traced back to what Luther had discovered. A generation was freed of the shackles of superstition and oppression as they began to understand God’s word in their language!

It strikes me that Luther’s task is not over. Today, most in our generation still think of God as a mysterious being way out there. Most have no idea that a personal God created them in love to accomplish a fulfilling and life-giving purpose. Church language is just not communicating anymore. Partly because of our fear of being ‘infected’ by the culture, we have invented our own insider language, complete with symbols, music and words that are designed to ensure we remain separate. And so we fill out our churches on Sunday morning but our continent continues to rot in corruption, negative ethnicity, illiteracy, drought and disease.

Maybe it’s time for another reformation. We as the church (church is you and me, not a building) need to stop talking our insider language and understand and engage with and in the language, music and culture of the un-churched person.

Or what do you think?


10 responses to “Reformation

  1. So true Pastor! “Christianese” makes church an exclusive club with a no admission unless invited policy, yet that’s not what it supposed to be. Believers are the church called to be a pleasant fragrance to this rotten world we live in.

  2. One day, Christ will be glorified in every synagogue, temple, mosque, stadium, club, home, school and sundry institution. When that day comes, I want to be known as one of those who believed way beforehand that this was going to be so. Thanks, all the Luthers and Pastor M’s of this world, for setting a bold standard. All Nations will Worship Him for sure… so we might as well lose the costume and help make it happen.

  3. Yeah that is true Pastor M the church has always spoken a language that the world just does not seem to get you know in my language skeptics call christians “ahonoki” and it is not even said in a positive context. Yes we need to speak the language that people understand. Granted, that will not make us very popular infact the world we are reaching will accuse us of trying to hard, other christians will accuse of being too wordly. But take a mat today and see the videos they are playing, take a sneak at the history of our internet browsers, am all for the second reformation. Thanks Pastor M and blessings

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more. One of the basic rules of communication is ‘know your audience’ and if one does, they will recognise what language they ought to speak to the audience in. Keep up the great work!

  5. For a long time I have sensed the church loosing its relevance. As you rightly put it, disconnecting with the world it is meant to bridge to Christ, it has sought to build a world of us against them. You are a lone voice that is now redefining this and using a language that the world identifies with-speaking to real issues and simply demonstrating what the word of God has for solutions. Write on Muriithi!

  6. Pastor M,

    For along time have been counter plating and asking myself why do i come to church? For once in my life time have come to realize why, i thank God for leading me to church. Last summons have really made discover myself coz of late have been holding so much grudge in my heart coz of the people who have wronged me mostly in my past relationship. You taught us to forgive and am letting, have done that and am praying for all that and many more in my life. Thank Pastor M for your encouragement. Be blessed.

  7. Hey Pastor M,

    Just wanted to give you a shout out from this side of the Atlantic. Prayed for you today-wish I was there with you. Keep us in your prayers. Would love for you and Carol to stay with us sometime soon!

    Pastor J

  8. Hi all, thanks for the comments!

    Pastor J, great to hear from you and thanks for visiting. We’ll take you up on your offer one of these days! And you’re certainly in our prayers. Nancy, I borrowed it from a friend so you’ll need to check your local lib. I’m actually planning on watching it with the Mavuno staff team.

  9. I am a member of Lakewood Church, one of the largest churches in the world, and Unity Church of Christianity here in Houston, TX. Both teach to be Christ-like rather than ‘Christian’ – a word which has become synonymous with a divisive, exclusive club, rife with all sorts of judgments and ‘stone throwing’. I’m very impressed with the work you are doing at Mavuno and glad than your congregation has a shot at knowing the truth about Christ rather than the religious dogma of the ‘traditional’ churches. At Unity, my pastor, Howard Caesar, ministers about the devotion to God, call to service, love and acceptance of all men, that Christ called us to. If all the churches could preach this simple message of love, the world would be a better place for all.

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