The Dickensian Paradox

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Daily Reformation, 1 John 3:16-24

From the Reformer

[There] are also a large multitude who understand the Word correctly and lay hold of it in its purity without any spirit of sect, division or fanaticism, they rejoice also in that they know the real truth, and are able to know how they may be saved without works through faith. They also know that they are free from the bondage of the law, of their conscience and of human teachings; but when it comes to the test that they must suffer harm, disgrace and loss of life or property, then they fall and deny it; for they have not root enough, and are not planted deep enough in the soil. Hence they are like the growth on a rock, which springs forth fresh and green, that it is a pleasure to behold it and it awakens bright hopes. But when the sun shines hot it withers, because it has no soil and moisture, and only rock is there. So these do; in times of persecution they deny or keep silence about the Word, and work, speak and suffer all that their persecutors mention or wish, who formerly went forth and spoke, and confessed with a fresh and joyful spirit the same, while there was still peace and no heat, so that there was hope they would bear much fruit and serve the people. For these fruits are not only the works, but more the confession, preaching and spreading of the Word, so that many others may thereby be converted and the kingdom of God be developed.

—Martin Luther, Assorted Sermons, “The Parable of the Sower”

Pulling It Together

We live in difficult and troubled times for the Church. It is also a great time to be a Christian. It is a Dickensian paradox. Luther also lived in an exceptionally difficult time and yet 500 years later we call the Reformation a great and world changing period of history. It became a great time only because people believed in the Son of God and acted in his name.

Today, God will give you the opportunity to speak or act in his name. Determine now that you will follow Jesus in taking up the cross, whatever might happen as a result, leaving it to God to work out the other details of his grand plan. Do your part and leave the history to him.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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