This week, like many of you, I’m celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation!
Reformation Day is celebrated annually on October 31 because tradition holds that a German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.
His hammer blows started a revolution of sorts now known as the Protestant Reformation.
The 95 Theses? You may be asking what is that? And how could a piece of paper start a revolution?
The 95 Theses was a list of Luther’s views on what he believed to be abusive practices within the church of that time. For example, the 86th Thesis says: “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”
Essentially, Luther’s list was a protest.
We’re familiar with protests, aren’t we? Seems every time we turn around someone is protesting something new. Social media has made this the age of having to outdo, outshine, and outshout one another. “Protesting” has become just one more vehicle we use to push and shove our way to the forefront of what’s trending.
The result of such “popularity protesting” is that too many jump aboard because everyone else is doing it. But I’m sure you wonder, like I do, whether a fraction of those people know what the issues really are? Do they know the history of protesting? Do they know that most of the strong protestors who came before us protested at great risk to themselves, their families, even their communities?
When Martin Luther wrote his list of protests he KNEW he was putting his life in jeopardy. He was well aware that men like Hus and Savonarola had been tortured and burned at the stake for similar dissension against the ruling powers.
The day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door was the day he said, “I’m willing to die for what I believe is right.”
He expected to be persecuted and he was.
He was excommunicated, put on trial, and found guilty. With a death warrant upon him, he spent years in hiding and avoiding capture. He was slandered, belittled, and mocked. He expected that every day would be his last, that he’d end up being burned at the stake like the protestors who came before him.
I’m grateful for brave men like Martin Luther who stood strong in the face of persecution and worked to bring about positive changes. I’m grateful for others who came after him, like Martin Luther King Jr. who died for his beliefs.
I wonder how many of today’s protestors would be willing to suffer immensely or die for their causes? Or would many of the protestors fall away in the face of such hardship?
I fear that “popularity protesting” trivializes our causes. When everyone is raising angry voices about everything, will anyone be heard? If protesting becomes so commonplace, will we lose the courage to stand up and fight when we really need to? And when we are persecuted for our protests, can we stand back and take it, or do we whine and complain?
As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and remember Martin Luther, I pray, like him, we will choose our battles wisely and then have the courage to see the fight to completion even at great personal sacrifice.
If you’d like to learn more about the personal life of Martin Luther, I invite you to read my award-winning novel, Luther & Katharina, an inspiring love story that takes readers behind the scenes into Martin Luther’s persecution and struggles. Visit my website for more information: jodhedlund.com
For the chance to WIN a copy of the book, head over to my publisher’s website where we’re giving away FIVE copies of the book this week (giveaway ends Fri. Nov. 3).
What about YOU? What lessons do YOU think we need to learn about protesting for causes? What lessons can we learn from great men like Martin Luther?
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