Examining the "R" Word

Examining the "R" Word

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In the Christian life, reformation is commonplace.

Reform is usually associated with something negative.  As a child, I remember hearing of troublemakers who were sent to “Reform School,” an alternative school for those who had misbehaved in some way.

This fall, we commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the event that most scholars point to as the official beginning of the Protestant Reformation: the posting of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. 

It is true that when we speak of reform or reformation, we usually speak of addressing something serious.  In the case of Luther, the attempt to rectify what he saw as clear abuses from key church leaders of his day prompted his call for debate.  However, in the Christian life, reformation is commonplace. 

When we are called by God, we are called to a “new life” (2 Cor. 5:17). 

This new life is one in which God not only “reforms” us in regard to our evil ways, but also one in which we are “re-formed” into the “image of Christ.” 

As 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

How can God “reform” and “re-form” us today?  Is there a sin that needs confessing so that change can come? Is there something in the way of God’s Spirit as He seeks to transform us more and more into the loving image of Christ?  Perhaps this prayer written by Martin Luther nearly 500 years ago can help us today:

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me through the night from all harm and dangers; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my actions and life may please You.  For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.  Be with me, that the evil foe have no power over me.  Amen.

Charles W. Christian is Managing Editor for Holiness Today

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today, 2017