September 2017

Our Inner Luther

Luther's focus on faith—not the Church's faith, not the pope's faith—but the individual believer's faith was the fuel for the fire that became known as the Reformation. But it's impact went far beyond the Church. This new focus on the individual is arguably the foundation of modern Western Civilization. From individual faith comes a belief in individual rights and from a notion of individual rights comes a yearning for political, economic and religious freedom and from freedom comes the long march to democracy. So regardless of religion, on the inside of every American is a little bit of Martin Luther.

WGUMC Homecoming

Paul tells them that this is a test. Paul is testing the genuineness of their love against the earnestness of the Macedonians. And how will he measure their generosity? By a very big yardstick, the standard set by Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." Against that standard, no gifts are too big. But Paul is not preaching to billionaires. He is saying that if the eagerness is there, if their hearts are really in it, then there are no gifts too small, either. Their gifts will be measured according to what they have, not according to what they don't have.

The Labor of a Christian

Ministry isn't the only vocation that requires a lot of different kinds of gifts. Any job worth doing requires more gifts than we've got. But that's just God's way of reminding us, in Paul's words, not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Being human is very humbling, and what we humans ought to think is that none of us can have it all. None of us can be it all. And none of us can do it all. Doing what is good and acceptable and perfect is not something that any one of us can do by ourselves. To be "perfect in love," as Wesley used to say, is a group project. We may each have a few marks of the true Christian, but we need the whole Church in order to be remarkable.