In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me?

Psalm 56: 4

 

Last night was a busy one in our neighborhood. As the month of October came to an end, the streets and our front door were filled with laughter, running feet, and mostly very young voices calling out, “Trick or Treat!” It is a night that we enjoy and look forward to with more positive anticipation than apprehension. The costumes that are worn by our youngest neighbors vary greatly in theme and in complexity. They range from happy themes such as princesses and cowboys to scary ones along the lines of zombies and vampires. Yet, even the most terrifying of costume themes do not bring about any real fear, for we all know that behind it all are the hearts of a small children. So, we look at what under other circumstances would be frightening and fear inducing and we laugh and smile at the joy that surrounds the night’s activity. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther confronted a different form of fear and did something truly decisive about its control over people.

 

Although we commemorate Luther’s powerful moment of open defiance when on October 31, 1517 he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses onto the door of the church in Wittenberg, this was just a public demonstration of his bigger battle against power and control of people by others. It was a very large step into the freedom of the truth that is at the center of God’s Word, and it was a bold act of fearless obedience to the leading of the Lord. Luther found that David’s expression of faith and trust in the Lord as stated in the 56th Psalm spoke to him in a personal way. His thoughts and the actions that he was led to take took him out of safety and into direct confrontation with people and with systems in his world that were mighty and that were capable of doing him great harm. No doubt, there were people who counseled him to remain quiet, to submit to authority, and to stay safe. Yet, that was not what he did.

 

Instead, Luther followed the one voice that he knew he could trust with all and beyond all others, for he listened to the words of truth that flowed out of God’s Word and that were reinforced to him by the Spirit of Christ within. Like David before him, when there were enemies to be found all around him and there were no safe places to go, he trusted in the powerful protection, comfort, and strengthening that Christ grants to His people. From this place of security, Luther stepped out in faith and led the way for us all to step into the light of God’s truth that flows out of His word and that defeats all of this world’s attempts to dominate and to control the lives of people. If we follow Christ, we will each face the opposition of this world and there will be enemies to encounter and to engage with. We are called by the Lord to be active and to be bold in our proclamation of His Gospel of truth, love, and redemption. I pray that I have the courage and the faith to follow along the path of my kinsmen David and Luther by lifting that hammer and placing my trust in Christ openly before the entire world to see.

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