On Sunday Night this week we started with a game of True or false. Why not play the game now? Here are the statements we looked at:
-Putting money into the collection is helpful -it means that I’m closer to God/a better person. True/False?
-Sometimes if God is cross at me, he will not listen to my prayers. True/False
-Sex is necessary for having children -but can distract us from God. It is better not to get distracted by it especially if you are a missionary or a vicar True/False
When Jesus died on the Cross, he gave me a second chance so that now I can try to live a holy life for him. True/False
The important thing was not just the answers we gave but how we came up with them.
I want you to notice that these questions are very relevant to church life today. They link to what we have often talked about in terms of the potential for a Guilt Driven Life and a Guilt Driven Church.
They were also very similar to the questions being asked in Luther’s day.
– It was thought that you could gain credit in heaven fro yourself and your relatives by giving money to the church -especially through “Indulgences” paid to buy time out of purgatory.
– God was seen as distant and angry so that you needed to go through Mary and the Saints if you wanted to pray to him
– Monk and priests demonstrated their holiness through celibacy.
– You received grace because of Jesus’s death at your baptism but through your life you could lose it by your sinful behaviour. That’s why you needed sacraments like The Mass, Marriage, Holy Orders, Confession, Last Rites in order to top up on your grace quota.
It is exactly because the Reformation happened that we answer those questions differently. We come back to what God’s Word actually says on those things not what tradition says. We start and finish with God’s outpoured grace to us so that we are justified by faith alone meaning we have a living relationship with God. We do not need to fear him or fear banishment from him. We can enjoy the good gifts he gives us without guilt and we don’t have to earn credit with him through works, rituals or payments.