Yesterday was one of those glorious days. The sun was shining, the temperature was up and the snow had melted (thank you Jesus!) Most of us were revelling in the unexpected gift of being able to walk outside without a coat and/or enjoy coffee on a friend’s deck. I am so grateful for days like these!
But you and I, as part of humanity, live in a paradox. “On the other hand”, even on these fabulous days, all is not well in our world. Things are complicated and concerning and for many of us, we are left feeling overwhelmed or anxious or just plain weary. Would you say that is true?
And what do you do when you are overwhelmed? How do you move forward in a way that encourages thriving?
Back on October 31 1517, almost exactly 503 years ago, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther wondered the same thing. Though physically thriving, he was keenly aware that his world was “out of order”. It stemmed from the fact that the people he was responsible for and cared about were being oppressed – in this case by the very church he served and its (unhealthy) practice of selling indulgences. If a person paid money, they could sin and know that they were still good with God. If you were one of the people who could afford this, that was a great deal. You could even plan your bad behaviour because you just had to pay money and all was forgiven! But it left the poor in a place of despair. They knew they could never be good enough for God and they also couldn’t buy their way into His good graces.
So Luther made the decision to do something in response to this injustice. He wrote what we now call his 95 Theses, took the composition to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and proceeded to nail them there. One small step to address a larger wrong. Choosing to do the “next right thing” so that others could thrive.
Whatever he intended when he nailed those theses to that church door, I am confident he had no idea that he would ignited a flame that would fan into a great fire resulting in what we now call the Protestant Reformation. His reminder that you come to God empty-handed and that your standing with Him is because of grace alone was truth that was truly good news!
I tell this story for two reasons.
First, this week’s calendar includes something called “Reformation day”, where people celebrate what Luther began all those years ago! Who knew?!
Second, the story reminds me that even in difficult times there are small steps one can take to encourage thriving and to make our world a better place to be. Perhaps you think what you have to offer is insignificant, just a small thing. You might wonder if anything you do could affect things for good? But none of us knows how God might use the small offering in our hand to affect the good of all. It reminds me of the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 (Matthew 14).
So what is the “next right thing” you are being nudged to this week? How is God calling you to care for people who might be languishing? No “small thing” that you offer is insignificant when God is involved!
It might be a phone call. Or a note sent to encourage. It could be a ride offered or a chore done to support someone in need. It might be something bigger, something only you are positioned to do. Whatever it is, know that every small act offered to our good God is multiplied in His economy!
How will you be part of helping others thrive in these complicated days?