Those Who Came Before

Read: Hebrews 11       

Perhaps you have heard?  This year is the 500th anniversary of the “Protestant Reformation” that occurred in 16th century Europe.  It all began on October 31, 1517 when a Catholic monk, professor, composer, and priest named Martin Luther submitted his 95 Thesis to his archbishop.  At some point it is believed that Luther also nailed that list of 95 thesis (that rejected several teachings and practices of the church at that time) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.  Little did Luther know how this would change the entire world.

In fact, some historians refer to it as one of the greatest events in history due to how The Reformation changed the religious and Christian landscape around the world.  From that time period came great division, disagreement, martyrdom, and change.  But it also brought forth many good things as well.  One of those was the important truth that we are justified by faith alone and that the grace of Christ is available to all.  This was a truth that Jesus taught, but it had become distorted and abused by people over time.  During that period the Bible was translated by Luther (from Latin to German) and William Tyndale (from Latin to English) and distributed widely to all Christians because of the invention of the Gutenberg Press.  God’s Word was not only for the Priests and leaders anymore.  It was now for all people to read, study, discern, and apply to their lives.

Much more could be said about that time period and the important people like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and the Anabaptist/Mennonite leaders like Conrad Grabel and Menno Simons that emerged; but it reminds us of the valuable examples of those who came before us.  The great “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 of the Bible is another reminder of how Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and others displayed faith, sacrifice, and courage many, many, years ago.  All of these people have helped to shape our Christian worldview today in the 21st Century.

Perhaps you can think of a parent, grandparent, relative, teacher, pastor, friend, or other who have been a great influence on your life and your faith?  As we remember the 500 year anniversary of The Reformation let’s take time to give thanks to God for all the positive influences of transformation, change, and example who have paved the way for us.  I know I would not be where I am at today without the example, encouragement, and patience of those before me.  Now it’s up to us to consider what path we are making for those who come after us.  More to come on that next week.

Make it Personal:  Take some time this week to look up history and stories from the Reformation period.  There are many great sources online and in libraries to help you learn more about Martin Luther and that very important time in history.  Also, take time to read Hebrews 11 and the Gospel of John to learn more about the Savior Jesus and the great people of faith that are shared about in the Bible.  Give thanks this week for those who have gone before us!

Have a great week, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church