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Day by Day - Apr. 6, 2010

Relevance of Reforming
by Charles R. Swindoll

1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Peter 5:8-11 

Every time you pick up a daily paper or watch the news you see someone protesting something. When I think of "protest," however, my thoughts often turn to that small band of men who had the guts to protest a religious system that had become corrupt to the core.

Godless church prelates paraded their carnality, indulging in shameless acts of the flesh. Bibles, banned from the common people, were chained to ornate pulpits and printed only in Latin, the "secret language" of the clergy. Instead of demonstrating compassion, unselfishness, grace, and other servantlike characteristics, those who led were anything but models of Christ.

"Enough!" thought a few straight-thinking souls. Men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Zwingli, Knox, Calvin, and Luther refused to sit back, smile, and stay quiet. Their zeal became contagious, and they led thousands of others who joined their band of "protestants." And protest they did!

Luther's philosophy could be summed up in his own timely words: "If you preach the gospel in all aspects with the exception of the issues which deal specifically with your time—you are not preaching the gospel at all."

In other words, the gospel isn't to be changed. But it is to cut into each generation, like a flashing sword sharpened on the stone of Scripture, tempered in the furnace of reality, relevance, and need.

Jesus Christ met people where they were. His words touched nerves. There was a lot more here-and-now than then-and-there in His talks. His attack on the hypocrisy and prejudice of religious phonies came through loud and clear. He met people as they were, not as they "ought to" be. Angry young men, blind beggars, proud politicians, loose-living street-walkers, ignorant fishermen, naked victims of demonism, and grieving parents were as clearly in His focus as the Twelve who sometimes hung on His every word.

His enemies misunderstood Him, but they couldn't ignore Him. They hated Him, but were never bored around Him. Jesus was the epitome of relevance. Still is.

It is we who have hauled the cross back out of sight. It is we who have left the impression that it belongs beneath the soft shadows of stained glass and marble statues.

And so . . . let's never lose relevance as we continue our work of reforming. Let's never bore people with the gospel. Let's never think that Christianity is something we must keep to ourselves and fearfully protect. Let's stay in the trenches of real-world involvements.

"Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, 
but on a cross between two thieves" (George MacLeod).


Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

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