Luther took us down the road a long distance when he posted 95 theses on the door of Wittenburg's church.
His unintended reformation spawned a movement that spiraled, multiplied, morphed, and gradually delivered us to this hour where we continue to need reforming both personally and collectively.
He went further than he thought he would and not far enough for Calvin, Zwingli, the Anabaptists, the Quakers, and the Baptists who would follow, to name a few.
And we have gone back and forth again and again.
Did you ever notice this frustrating reality?
Let's personalize it.
You clean up, fix up, or straighten up and it goes well for a while and then ... you relapse into a worse state than before.
There is a futility in constantly cleaning up and not dealing with the roots of what pollutes us, corrupts us, and manipulates our thinking into even deeper futility. An interruption in a cycle that is empowered by its own forces will only be temporary.
Christian faith and spiritual transformation are not about momentary behavior modification or immobilization of peripheral demons. To repent is to recognize the difference between where we are going and where we can go and to change direction.
We have been invaded by the Kingdom of God and the King Himself has come to invite us into transformation, liberation, and deep significance. This is no passing matter or minor deliverance. The enemy that seeks to entrap and destroy the soul is sinister, persistent, and patient. We can choose a different master and step away from the "generation" bent on destruction.
We need more than subtle reformation. We need re-FORM-ation in all of its implications.
All Luther wanted to do was change 95 things that were currently disturbing his conscience about the church in his day. But the root causes of injustice, addiction, stinking thinking, and warped theological assumptions usually run deeper into the hard pan of our individual and community souls.
He started something he could not contain. Eventually, he was re-FORMED and others were as well.
It does not always happen.
Jesus speaks to the frustration of the human condition and its resistance to transforming grace when He says,
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”
(Matthew 12:43-45 ESV)