Some of the most powerful drivers of human history and civilizations are rooted in the deepest longings and needs of the heart. Just think of the stuff that fills the news today. Equal rights. Justice. Freedom. Dignity. Beneath the clutter of the headlines that fill the newsfeed, these are the core drivers of all that surrounds us. We are humans are built with certain longings and affections that cannot be rationalized away. Its just how we are.
When you understand this it starts to shed real insight into the way history itself ebbs and flows. There is a reason for the way things turn out the way they do. There is a pattern. And that pattern flows from the depths of the way our hearts are structured. One such powerful example is the Protestant Reformation that shook Europe and had a permanent impact on the whole face of Western culture.
At the heart of the reformation is the rediscovery of this simple idea: the good news of Jesus is that salvation is granted to all people by faith alone. The God of the Bible does not require people to jump through endless religious hoops, obey countless ordinances and rules, pay indulgences, or recite prayers or chants. The entirety of God’s love and grace comes to us completely free as we put our faith in all the Jesus has done on our behalf.
This idea landed like a bright spark in a dry forest. It lit Europe on fire at an unstoppable rate. It wrought havoc on dominion of the Roman Catholic church. The long centuries of a religious system that starved people’s souls for real hope and direction in life had brought them to a place of desperate need. The rules and obligations of a dead religious system had parched the hearts of Western peoples. And as people started to read the Bible again, the rediscovery of Jesus actual message came like a drenching rain in a dead and dry land.
Through the massacres and bloodshed that followed, thousands of people were willing to give up their lives far before they were willing to give up their grip on the message of Jesus’ free grace. The life they discovered in him was far more important than the life they lived out here. The hope, peace, joy and purpose of Jesus far surpassed the promises of well being in this passing world.
The power of Jesus’ message is unparalleled in all human history. There really is nothing quite like it. Have you ever seriously considered its meaning and implications for life? If you call yourself a christian, do you hold to the hope of Jesus like the christians of the Reformation? Do you live daily in light of the radically liberating power of its truth?