Each year on October 31, we remember the courage of persons like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others who led the Protestant Reformation and worked faithfully to reform the church. These were people who responded to the call of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit with courage and action that changed the world.
As we reflect on Reformation Day, I hope that we will not only remember Luther and the other 16th-century reformers, but that we will also consider the way in which God continues to use men and women to transform the world. You and I stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.
Reformation Day is a time when we recall men and women who, against all odds, worked to build churches and communities in keeping with their calling from God. It is about those who gave up family and friends and traveled to uncharted places so that others could hear the good news of grace. It is about martyrs torn apart and burned at the stake for refusing to renounce the truth of God’s Word.
In addition to the reformers who have shaped the church and world, we each have heroes of faith who have shaped us personally. In my own life there have been many people who have molded and formed me. Certainly my parents were instrumental in forming my life and making me the person I am today. There were teachers, professors, youth leaders, preachers, friends, colleagues, authors, and speakers. It is fitting that we take time to thank God for each of the people who had an impact on our lives.
One of the beautiful things about the Reformed faith is that it is not simply about reforming the past—it is about preparing the future. Today, all across the world, including in North America, there is a new interest in Reformed theology. People are discovering and rediscovering both the power and the comfort that flows from understanding that our God reigns over all creation. Our world—every square centimeter—belongs to God. Together God’s covenant people are called to care for his world not simply because it is prudent and wise, but because it is our Father’s world. He has appointed us as caretakers over all he has created.
The gospel of the Reformation is not dry, dusty theology hidden in the basements of musty libraries. It is the good news of comfort and joy. It is a transforming power that lifts desperate sinners into the arms of a loving God. It is a biblical understanding that compels us to engage, redeem, and inform culture so that it might become well, whole, and Christlike.
The church of the Reformation is a church that continues to transform and be transformed, to reform and be reformed, as it responds to God’s call. If we are faithful to the Word and attentive to the Holy Spirit, we too will be reformers. It is my hope and prayer that what we do and say, teach and preach, live and breathe, will shape the world and transform lives.
As we celebrate Reformation Day, I hope that we will do more than remember those who have gone before us. I hope that we will also commit to being people of the Reformation. May the church of 2010 and beyond continue to impact the world with a message of hope and grace.
About the Author
Jerry Dykstra served as the executive director of the Christian
Reformed Church in North America from 2006-2011.