“For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.” vs. 28
Martin Luther spent decades trying to gain assurance of salvation by bringing his stubborn, subversive flesh into line with the works of the law. Since he couldn’t do it he was forever wracked with guilt, and greatly damaged his health in the process. But when in the course of studying the book of Romans he realized that justification was by faith through grace, a light went on for him, and his life changed. Now most of us aren’t weighed down by individual sins in the way that Luther was–and that’s okay–that sort of obsession isn’t helpful, and it misses the sins we should be concerned about. But those sins, the systemic ones, can really get to us! We regularly see the horrible consequences of corporate greed and manipulation and our hearts are pained–and because on some level we’re involved, we can end up carrying horrible burdens of guilt. Some are so troubled by that shared existential guilt they experience daily despair–they find it hard to be joyful in a world so full of suffering. It’s here we can learn from Luther. Even though we can’t make the world right no matter how hard we try, we can experience forgiveness. In Christ our guilt is lifted and we can have peace and even know joy. And then, as Spirit-filled forgiven persons we can even begin to change the systems that cause our world such pain!
Thought for the Day: How does systemic repentance happen?