Martin Luther did not set out to change the world but to reform himself and the church he loved

Martin Luther
Martin Luther

Yesterday we marked Reformation day – 500 years to the day since Martin Luther changed the world by nailing 95 theses to a church door.

Luther had a real passion for justice.

Peter Lynas, NI Director, Evangelical Alliance

Peter Lynas, NI Director, Evangelical Alliance

He was deeply concerned that people were wasting the money they needed to feed their families on buying indulgences.

He wrote his famous 95 theses or arguments to start a debate.

However, a new invention, the printing press, the internet of the day, meant his ideas went viral.

Luther did not set out to change the world, but to reform himself and the church he loved.

The church had neglected its God-given mandate to be a witness to Jesus and Luther was deeply troubled by its excess and exploitative practices.

In nailing his colours to a Church door in Wittenberg he set into motion events that would profoundly shape the future of Western civilisation.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, the Reformation has shaped your life.

The Reformation changed everything – work, the church, the modern state, democracy, free speech, capitalism, individualism, liberalism, the Enlightenment and many other areas of life have been revolutionised by the Reformation.

On Reformation Day we celebrate the positive impact of the Reformation renewing and re-invigorating the church. But we also acknowledge the deep division that followed and the fractured relationships throughout the church and wider culture we still see in Northern Ireland today.

So we encourage reflection on how we can build new relationships with those who are different to us, within the freedoms we all share.

The Reformation was not a one-off event.

As we seek to reimagine its legacy, we are presented with a daily challenge. How can we always be reforming, as we think deeply, walk wisely and speak hopefully in every sphere of our shared life together?

• Peter Lynas is NI director of the Evangelical Alliance