With the increasing pressure for people to be fully vaccinated against COVID, it is literally becoming a matter of who is in and who is out of favour with shops, restaurants, sporting events, and in some states, schools. We are also being told quite clearly that it is up to us individually to ensure we meet the required condition of full vaccination in order to be ‘in’.
At the time of Martin Luther the church taught that individuals had to fulfil certain conditions in order to be in favour with God. Hence the selling of forgiveness and the requirement of pious works became the norm for the church. If you didn’t fulfil these conditions then you were out of favour with God and therefore out of favour with the church and the bulk of society.
Luther’s reading of the Bible led him to hold a contrary understanding. He held that being in favour with God was a totally undeserved and unconditional gift (i.e. by grace). So on 31 October 1517 he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church as a way of raising a discussion around how one comes to be in or out of favour with God. I don’t think anybody realised what he started at the time. It became a movement that involved so many people and having a profound effect on our world.
The question Luther wrestled with is the same question we do well to wrestle with today. In all we say and do, do we ever give the message that we somehow contribute toward our standing before God, and therefore how we relate to them? As we deal with the people and the issues of our time such as gender identity and sexual attraction, vaccination, euthanasia, immigration, or, possibly even a colleague you encounter today, do we ever give the impression that who they are and what they do makes a difference to their standing before God? Or, do we show that we are communities where grace abounds and reflect the unconditional love of the Father, revealed through the saving work of his Son, Jesus?
Cultural & Spiritual Leader