In the film, Luther, starring Joseph Fiennes, Martin Luther discusses the incipient Reformation with his Father Confessor, Johann von Staupitz, as they prepare for the Diet of Worms. Von Staupitz laments the chaos that seems to have been unleashed. He expresses the fear that Luther is destroying the Church, rather than reforming her. Luther responds to this that reform comes at a cost.
This scene has always made an impact on me. Although this particular film has a number of historical inaccuracies, I find parts of it edifying in the lessons they teach. The cost of reform is one of them.
This is a period in time that is crying out for reform, reform of the Church and reform of the states. Heresy and deceit abound. Rebellion against ancient custom, which once could safeguard a nation without the support of law, has made it dangerous to speak one’s thoughts aloud. History, the wellspring of conservatism, has been forgotten and – worse still – rewritten. Death stalks the lands, and the powers of darkness tighten their grip on the nations.
God knows these things. They are not too great for Him to overcome. His grace and power are breaking through and the Devil suspects that his time is short. The return of Christ approaches, and when He comes, He will pour out the wrath of God on the unrepentant.
In the meantime, reform is necessary. The Church must be prepared for the “final push”, the completion of her great commission. This reform is costly. It will mean repentance, humility, and a careful use of Scripture, in order to avoid falling for deception.
As the Church is reformed, though the world continues in a dark direction, the light of the Church will grow brighter and the Gospel will go out in power. May the Lord’s will be accomplished.