Martin Luther fought against counterfeit Christianity. He fought against the Vatican selling what they called “indulgences” in order to pay for the new St. Peter’s Basilica. I am not sure if I can remember if Luther had an opinion on some of the other practices that were going on, such as pieces of wood alleged to be splintered off from the cross, a bottle containing Mary’s tears, and other such items people could sell as religious relics from the time of Jesus and the apostles. It tells of how superstitious the people of Luther’s time were, and easily they thought that these material things and gestures could somehow put them in better standing with the Almighty. They believed a flip of a coin into a wooden box would have an effect on the amount of time spent in purgatory, and then this allows them to spend time on other fleshly indulgences.
But am I really much different? Do I go through the motions in church, singing, occasionally raising my hands while singing, putting an envelope in the offering, and other things I do that in appearance seem like I am a person who has it together as a Christian. Maybe I am not much different. Maybe I believe that if I do these things, offer quick little prayers and a few coppers into the bucket and off I go to my own little world. And it is a little world compared to the big world God wants me to engage as an ambassador for the Gospel. The reality is that I consider myself an embarrassment as an ambassador. I am pathetically weak where I should be strong and incredibly self-centered where I should be entirely self-less.
I am a flippant Christian. I don’t take seriously enough the faith I confess. I don’t venture into the four corners of the earth to spread the gospel. I am not concerned with my neighbor in another country and I am not concerned with my neighbor next door. I pray for distant things that would hurt the least. I pray for obvious concerns for family members but neglect to pray for the salvation of my neighbor. I am more interested in what I am going to do after church than in the sermon that is being preached ten feet away. I am more concerned about being recognized for serving than I am in truly being a servant. I am a hypocrite and I have received my reward. Now it’s time I threw away the stubble and hay I have accumulated and seek after treasures that are stored in heaven, awaiting my arrival.
I need to stop indulging in my own indulgences. I need to stop treating times and acts of worship as indulgences. It is time for to die instead of holding on the little stem of a tree as I fall over the precipice. It is time I let go and fall into the arms of Jesus and let Him set my path.