In a previous career, my old boss used to regularly say, “Success is never final, and reform is never finished.” It was a constant reminder that no matter how well things were going, and no matter what success you may have just achieved, there was always more work to be done. His words elicited both exhaustion and inspiration.
This month, as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the Reformation that followed, I’m reminded that the work of reformation that began more than five centuries ago still continues today. Until perfection is reached, reformation is never finished. And in this fallen world, we know that perfection will only come through Jesus and His eventual return.
In the meantime, our call remains the same: to seek reformation. We must pursue reformation within the church. We must pursue reformation within our church. And we must pursue reformation within each of us. To ever feel like we’ve finally arrived and can just maintain the status quo is to fall into the same trap that the church was in those many years ago.
Just consider where the church and our culture are today in light of the Five Solas of the Reformation. Sola Scriptura: The authority and sufficiency of the Bible are still questioned, even within the church. Sola Gratia and Sola Fide: Salvation by grace alone and through faith alone is easier to dismiss when we’d rather rely on religious traditions and mere outward observance rather than wrestle with our own sin against a holy God and need for His forgiveness. Solus Christus: Arguing for the sufficiency and exclusivity of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is now labeled intolerant in a culture that prefers many paths to God — or no path at all. Soli Deo Gloria: In a world where “selfie” is such a common term, do I even have to explain how hard it is to live for God’s glory alone?
So as you go through this month, I want to invite you to prayerfully and conscientiously evaluate the state of the church, the status of our church, and the condition of your own faith and practice. Identify those places where we’ve drifted — or even walked away — from the clear teachings of Jesus and Scripture. Then, like the Reformers, may we repent of our error and commit to the hard yet fruitful work of reformation. All for the glory of God.