What does it mean to be Lutheran 500 years after the Reformation?
Some might question the relevance of the theology of a 16th-centuryGerman monk, but Martin Luther’s clear exposition of the gospel is as fresh and powerful today as it was 500 years ago.
For Luther, God was an actual living being: holy, righteous and jealous.
In our culture, God has become a cross between a cosmic Barney (“I love you, you love me…”) and an ATM. This cuddly, transactional God does not inspire reverence or awe. With this domesticated God, we are missing the earth-shattering, life-changing good news of the gospel.
Lutherans hold up two key understandings. First, grace presupposes that we need it. Second, grace is a gift. We are not loved for what we do or for who we are but because of Whose we are.
To be Lutheran 500 years after the Reformation means that we are free to serve the neighbor as a person in his or her own right, not as a means to an end. It is the possibility of being open and genuine and honest because we are loved completely by God, who knows us completely.
This message is adapted from “Where’s Lutheran” by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in the January/February 2017 issue of Gather. Today we observe Presidents’ Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, a federal holiday.