We are told that when the Roman Caesar would march triumphantly into Rome, he was welcomed by the Senate and the citizens of Rome. As he processed to receive the accolades belonging to a victorious general, a fool would ride with him whispering, “The glory of this world is passing.” When Communism was defeated in Russian, enormous statues of Marx, Lenin and Stalin were pulled down by the jubilant mobs.
I was recently teaching a course on the Reformation. We were studying reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulirch Zwingli and Meno Simon. The Reformation challenged the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church. The defiant act by the young German monk happened on October 31, 1517, when he posted his 95 theses on a university door. It was an invitation to come and debate with him about indulgences, an item sold in the marketplace for the redemption of a loved one's soul from the purgatory. In many of our secular history textbooks we learn about these reformers, but mostly in a negative way. We learned that there has been a Peasants' Revolt that was suppressed by the nobles with the help of Luther, or that Calvin was an oppressive dictator, or that Zwingli died on a battlefield.
In October 2017 the world will celebrate 500 since the beginning of the Reformation. It will be a great time to remember more holistically what the reformers have done and the ways that they have influenced things not only spiritually, but also culturally, politically, and economically. For the German people, Luther is one of the great heroes. He gave the German nation their first Bible in their own language, became foundational to their culture. Five hundred years later, there are Lutheran churches throughout the world. In our nearby area of Lancaster we have the Amish and the Mennonites who are connected with the work of Meno Simon in Europe. They have a culture that has decided to keep their traditions in spite of the speed with which the world around them is moving.
Some great events and great people have come and gone. They have glory and impacted the people around them in their days. Others—events and people—continue to have an impact and have an influence even in our days. One of the songs that we sing in our churches tell us that the things that we do in this world sooner or later will come to pass and their glory will fade, but what we have done for Christ, his Kingdom, and His glory will last forever.