Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?). He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:2-6 (NIV).
Today is Reformation Day. In our culture, Halloween long ago eclipsed the day Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door, but I would submit that what Dr. Luther did was far more important than trick or treating. Luther’s action made the Renaissance real, made the Enlightenment inevitable, and made the American Revolution possible. A stretch? Perhaps, yet those things revolutionized Western civilization and made the life we live possible. And it all started because God put it on the heart of a German monk to question the authority of the Catholic church: 501 years ago today.
I don’t know all of Luther’s history so here’s a condensed version. Luther was a monk, a highly educated Roman Catholic who, over the course of his life, began to question practices and doctrines of that Roman Catholic church he served. In 1517, his angst over how the church interpreted Scripture (and how they were using it for fundraising) caused him to nail 95 theses – questions – to a church door in Germany, asking for someone in authority to debate. For the rest of his life, Luther lived in persecution. His questioning became the basis for the Protestant Reformation that permanently changed the Christian church forever. Indeed, all of modern western thought changed, including the subjects of man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with government. While living in fear for his life, Luther translated the New Testament into German so that his countrymen could more easily read it themselves (without the assistance of a priest).
Read the verses again. You might just see that Luther called the church on the carpet for not exhibiting the qualities of an overseer that Paul outlined in verses 2-6.
Take your kids trick or treating, or stay home and hand out some candy. Dress up a kid as Martin Luther. I reject the Satanist and evil intentions of some; Halloween can be good clean fun after all. Yet take a few minutes today and say a prayer of thanks for a monk 500 years ago who stood up to authority and helped create the world in which you live.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 3:7
Lord, bless Martin Luther and all those who crusade for You.