Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reformation: Regaining Intimacy with God!

The past October 31, 2012 was again another commemoration of the action which is known to be called as the church reformation. As we all know, this 16th century church reformation was, in fact, carried out in quite a long time by a number of people, who are now famous for their being called the reformers. On that October 31, exactly 495 years ago, i.e. 1517, Martin Luther, the well-known reformer that made a breakthrough at that time, nailed his 95, so-called theses, well-grounded doctrinal accusations on the door of the All Saints' Church, a.k.a Schloßkirche (it means “castle church”) in Wittenberg against the teaching of the Christendom government that was based in Rome.

Why did he do this? Why did he come to such a conclusion? Why did he end up in doing such a self-humiliating action? Going against the papal authority was considered as heretic action. He was then expelled from the claimed-to-be-the-only-source-of-salvation Holy Catholic Church. For us that do not know what it meant for Luther and the people in his time, such a ridiculous, yet audacious and conspicuous type of maneuver may sound lunatic. It was such a very brave action that he was to fight against the whole regime of the “glorious body of Christ”. Would we ever do such a thing in today's world full of slogans of tolerance and democracy. What went “wrong” with this young pastor?

The movie Luther (2003) depicts quite a vivid and accurate picture of Martin Luther, except for his tall and slim posture which is reminiscent of Tim-Duncan like basketball player – whereas “big body” becomes his physical trait in his pictures :). At least, by watching the movie, we can see and ponder upon Luther's battle deep within his heart, between good and evil. Before he announced his theses, it is shown that many times he satirized the doctrines of indulgence, purgatory, relics, etc. What he learned in the seminary was not reflected by the practices of the church in his time. He saw all the vile and wretched things being conducted by the church authorities and the lay people were fooled at the same time – bible was not translated and preached in local languages, but only in Latin, so people can only understand “truth” from what the papacy decides. All was done to fulfill mundane ambitions of certain people. This is, of course, a resemblance of what was happening in the time of Jesus, namely the vices of religious leaders suppress the truth. So, why, do you think, Luther wouldn't fight back on behalf of the common people who are literally the church itself, the glorious body of Christ?

Now, I would like to discuss about something else and move a little bit away from the reformation context. Resulting from my pondering upon human sexuality, I think every creature is equipped with this ability, but it seems that only men can really enjoy this “creature's feature” in many ways. But why should God give this “feature” to us? In its very first few pages, the bible would be able to explain this to us – it is to procreate that we have been granted sexuality.

If that is so, then, unfortunately, people have sinned and perverted sexuality in such a way that it has become a very “cheap” thing. We can see that it is one of the most important things in people's life; it is a basic need for humans. However, many people now have sex in approximately the same way that animals do it. In the western world, it is not weird to have your girlfriend/boyfriend as your sex partner as well. Even you can do it anytime you feel needing it. Some people even claim that their status is not married, but living-together-as-spouses, and yet they have children from their being-not-married. Waiting to have sex after getting married is no longer a norm or principle that is held in today's society, even in Asia, let alone having the fact that same sex marriage is now more and more common. Don't you think there is something wrong here? Maybe? Let's get back to the bible to answer this – well you might not agree with this, but let's just do it anyway :).

The bible says that sex is indeed given for men, and, of course, to all other creatures, to procreate. What else? Sex is given to be conducted by a man and a woman – well, isn't this obvious? The bible really depicts this man-woman relationship as something that is very special, unique, and intimate. Hence, I do not think that sexuality can be set apart from intimacy, namely between the man and the woman, which can only be attained through the holy marriage. There is no intimacy without commitment. Well, to get into this conclusion, we have to read Genesis chapters 1-3 and I will not go ahead and explain it here. Whoever you are, when you read these sentences and the sentences to come, you may not agree with me and it is not my task here to give you the details one by one. Despite your being stubborn, my task is to make you think and let you ponder upon these things. I think deep in your heart you would say: “Yes, that is actually very true”. Or, you may also not, because all depends on your conscience.

I can imagine that this intimacy is in fact much related with the intimacy of God and man. The ultimate goal that God has in his mind when he creates human is for both sides to enjoy the relationship in its ultimate intimacy in the eternity. Unfortunately, this had to be hindered when Adam and Eve, as we know, committed the first sin. Intimacy was broken and both of them had to die “on the same day”, namely spiritual death in sin. This spiritual death has been blocking us from knowing God personally and understanding him completely. Sexual capacity, in its vital and important position in our life, is given for us to enjoy intimacy with our partner. It is for us to be able to understand how intimate two persons can be and, thus, we would be able to taste a glimpse of the eternal intimacy with God which was broken because of sin. How wonderful it is to be in the ultimate and eternal state of intimacy with the most right and righteous person – the true and living God. No wonder humans have been looking for ways to reinstate this broken intimacy and love – well, I propose this as the ultimate reason why people pervert sexual relationship. It is really a pity that many of us are trapped in merely so-called sexual pleasure itself and do not know how to go further.

Going back to our discussion on reformation, we can actually think deeper to analyze why Luther and the other reformers triggered the reformation movement. Yes! It is in fact due to the same reason, namely to reinstate the true God-man relationship, namely redeeming the broken intimacy between God and humans. After being established by and based on Jesus Christ, church, the glorious body of Christ, has been through many phases and in each phase God's grace is always able to keep her safe and sound, safe from those people who try to snatch us from God's divine hand. Deceived by their own ambitions, this group of vile and wicked people and church leaders may always try to disturb the sheep of the shepherd's. But through God's grace and mercy, we, his elected ones, are always enabled to find a way back to our flocks. Thanks to the reformers that have consecrated their lives to start the glorious reformation upon the glorious body of Christ. And the spirit of reformation is a spirit of willingness to always be reformed all the time, thus, it was not stopped in Luther's time. Today, our struggle is still the same, which is to always keep our relationship with God. Stay focused and be aware of the evil ones. Let's always cling to God and make this state of ultimate intimacy with him become our lifelong goal.

Happy reformation day! Happy coming back to the intimacy of the Most-True-One!

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