I can’t remember ever hearing of Reformation Day growing up. I doubt it was because my pentecostal tradition frowned on Sola Scriptura and maybe people around me recognized the day and celebrated it but I never interacted with it (perhaps it was my families roots in the Catholic church that shunned the day!)
But for the last ten years or so I have seen an increasing interest in what happened on October 31, 1517 and the revolution it started in Christianity. (This increase in awareness of Reformation Day also is due to my increasing my interaction with “reformed” theology and people!)
Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of his church laying down a marker for unity in the church based on scriptural truth not tradition alone. His intent was not on division of Christendom but a reform of it back to its base of Christ and faith. Division was however one outcome and centuries of hatred and violence followed among Christians. But other things less bloody followed as well. People heard the Gospel in a language they understood. Scripture was translated into modern language making it accessible to the masses.
Today, those ascribing to the reformed tradition believe they are very much living to continue the work of Luther (and dare we say other reformers like Calvin). This though too often takes the form of division in modern protestant Christianity as we bicker over theological perspectives and tradition. Some stand ready to denounce the apostasy of others at every turn. And even I am guilty of preferring a Gospel that I might preach over that of someone else in a pulpit.
I talk often of grace in interaction with fellow believers and at the same time I recognize the role of biblical correction when we step out of line. Grace never negates truth. The Holy Spirit never contradicts biblical revelation. And we as men can never supersede the authority of God.
This Reformation Day let us be about unity in the Gospel – our recognition of sin and our saviors sacrifice to cover that sin. And may all of us continue in the tradition of reform; seeking to see ourselves “reformed” through the work of scripture and the Holy Spirit that we might love God and each other reflecting what Jesus prayed for in the book of John.