The protest is over

"We don't need a reformation . . . we need a revolution."

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(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

That got your attention, didn’t it? Before you burn me at the stake as a heretic or stop reading what I have to say, hear me out.

Maybe you’ve heard of the very significant date coming up. October 31 marks 500 years since Martin Luther posted his 95 theses around Wittenberg University and cathedral. It was an event that launched the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of history. The concepts the young German monk championed grew into important understandings we still hold today. The centrality and availability of the Scriptures, justification by faith, a direct Mediator in Jesus, and even, eventually, the separation of church and state, all grew out of the Protestant Reformation.

Yet Luther didn’t plan all that. He merely wanted to change the Church. He wanted less corruption and more pure doctrine. He assumed everyone was on the same side. After all, everyone believed in God, right?

Fast forward 500 years and we still believe the concepts that flowed from the Reformation are important. And, don’t get me wrong, I do believe in progressive truth—that God can and will continue to reveal and remind us of important doctrines.

The problem is, we think we’re still in the Reformation: still protesting the wrongs and corruptions of Christendom, in a world that increasingly has no religion. The Adventist message is now more effective with other (especially nominal) Christians. Meanwhile, we completely neglect the multitudes who don’t know Christ. We spend time and energy fighting culture wars both within the Church and outside of it, hoping to see both our churches and societies reformed into our image.

We still use Christian language to get our point across. We speak in terms that we expect everyone to understand but no-one really does. It’s a clash of civilisations, of completely different worldviews.

Christendom is dead. And it was never the goal. Jesus is coming back to set everything right—it’s not our job to make everything right before He comes.

Like Martin Luther, we seek to reform the world we view from within our system. And that’s where we are getting it wrong. Corporately, universally, we don’t need a reformation. We need a resistance movement. We need a revolution. A revolution is what Jesus started. A revolution followed Pentecost. The standards and traditions and normal practices of the world were turned upside down by these radical Christ followers. In a world full of violence and worldview clashes we need a committed, non-violent resistance movement driven by faith, hope and love.

If we want a reformation, we should start with our own lives. The most important reformation in the 21st century is a personal reformation. What we all need is a complete upheaval from out of our comfort zones by the challenging words of Jesus and the transforming promptings of the Holy Spirit. Then people will see the strength of our conviction and character.

"Jesus is coming back to set everything right—it’s not our job to make everything right before He comes."

Arguing with a world that doesn’t believe is pointless. More will be turned away than attracted. We need to challenge people with our love, our forgiveness and our actions.

We need to return to the missionary spirit that built the Church in this region—people willing to give up everything to leave home and loved ones to share the gospel. Only the mission field has changed. Now there is a great need for God in the Western nations—as great if not greater than the most remote islands we focused on for so long. It’s not by leaving your country of residence that you become a missionary but by the commitment you show.

We need the Holy Spirit—to lead, to prompt, to do mighty works, to show us who and how to reach.

And we need people at our grassroots to take up the call. Luther criticised the Church for standing in between the people and God. Are we allowing our ministers to stand between God’s work and us? Do we rely on them to evangelise, to outreach, to lead, without taking risks and doing it ourselves?

There is no longer any Christendom to protest. We must instead live lives worthy of Christ and begin the resistance that will be found on Earth when Jesus comes.

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