I love Play-doh! Sometimes when my stress or boredom reaches a high level, I wander into the Preschool room and sit down with the children and make Play-doh creations!
Here’s a photo of one of my fine museum–quality pieces. As you can see, like all good art work, it is open to interpretation. Is it a hose, a worm, a snake, or the outline of an ear?? Why is Play-doh so awesome? Because even an accomplished artist like myself often finds themselves in need of re-forming their creation!
499 years ago Martin Luther found himself in a Church that had lost its God-given shape. In place of God’s free grace, the Church was selling forgiveness. To combat this false practice and teaching, Luther posted 95 Theses for debate on the door of the church in Wittenberg — and the Reformation was born.
But the story isn’t over, the need for re-forming the Church continues. Errors continue to creep into the teaching and preaching of the Church’s pulpits. Some, in the name of Jesus, tolerate behaviors and lifestyles that Christ Himself condemned in His Word. Others strut around in their freedom from sin unwilling to grant that self-same forgiveness to others. Why is the Church so prone to mangling her holy, Christ-given shape? Because the Church of Jesus Christ is comprised of forgiven, yet still sinful, people.
As much as we want to blame others, re-forming the Church back into the shape the Lord desires has to begin with us. Paul declared that you are a “new creation” because you are in Christ. By your sin — both inherited and that which you have committed — your reflection of the image of God was cracked and broken. Through Jesus you have been forgiven and re-formed back into the beautiful and glorious image of God. The rub is this: the cracked and broken part of you remains until the Day of Resurrection!
EVERY day we need to consciously and prayerfully re-form the broken one within us...but how? Remember that in your faith and baptism you were given rebirth as a child of God. And then USE your baptism! Luther wrote: “the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before the Lord in righteousness and purity forever.” [Luther’s Small Catechism, pg 23, © 1986 Concordia Publishing House] Then as the redeemed and re-formed child of God you are able to effect Godly change within your family, community and Church.
As we celebrate the 499th anniversary of the Reformation, let us continue the work of re-forming. Let us be a people daily at work at re-forming ourselves through repentance and faith in Christ. Let us be a people who remain vigilant within the Church, guarding our confession. And let us EVER share this news of New Creation through Jesus with those the sinful and broken and wounded around us.
To God be the glory!