Written by Jordan Kleist
“The best preachers preach with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.” I’m not sure where I first heard that quote, but I’m inclined to agree, and I think Martin Luther was that preacher. Luther, like Jesus before him, could not turn a blind eye to the people around him. I think of Jesus overturning the tables of business people who were profiting from sales in the synagogue. I think of Jesus overturning ideas of a holiness by choosing to humble himself; he spends his time with lepers and tax collectors (people on the margins) and on Palm Sunday, he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, not a war horse. In his death and resurrection, Jesus overturned death and re-formed the very relationship between God and humankind.
The church in Luther’s time serves as an important reminder that the reforming institutions of one generation sometimes become the rigid establishment of the next. Luther brought attention to the original message of Jesus: that we are to turn away from sin, toward God and love one another. Yes, I said turn. And turning implies movement. Institutions, like individuals, are in greatest need of reform when they sit with a closed mind and say “I’ve never done that. I’m not going to start now,” or “that’s just not what I do.” Luther’s reforming work had never been done before. He looked around himself and saw people who thought forgiveness was something you bought at church, and who could never read the Bible because it was written in a foreign language. So Luther sought ways to reform the world around him and renew God’s creation.
Today, LCM continues Luther’s work of reformation. LCM reforms me by making me examine my own life. What are the needs of the world around me? In what ways can I remind myself and others of Jesus’ reforming, resurrecting and redeeming grace.
Moreover, LCM reforms the world through the students it touches. Through LCM, I’ve been pushed to serve my neighbor in ways I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing. Students in LCM have engaged in multi-faith work, served refugees, learned about issues surrounding immigration and much more. By reforming the students it touches, LCM pushes for justice for the oppressed and marginalized. It teaches individuals about God’s redeeming love, and equips them to go out and reform the world. Thus, LCM helps us to be modern-day reformers. Let us be preachers with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, for these are the reformers that the world needs.