1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
9You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. 11As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
13We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.
1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 4They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. 5They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. 6They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, 7and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi.
8But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. 9And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father — the one in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
My grandmother got me a Bible when I was 12. She says I told her I was going to read the wholething. Then I read two or three verses and said that was enough for the night. She said, in her lovely southern accent, “Sam, it’s going to take an awful long time to read the Bible like that.”
I don’t remember exactly when or how it happened, but soon I fell in love with the Bible. I read it on my own, which made me more interested in the sermons I heard on Sundays. I was captivated by the world of the Bible, so different than the world we live in today but still connected. I loved the stories of Moses, Israel, and King David.
More than anything I was captivated by the story of Jesus. His teaching was so powerful. He had a way of cutting through all the subtle deception and political posturing of the religious leaders. His words hit me and stuck. His life also inspired me. His love for us and his courage blew me away as did the courage and conviction of the early church.
In seventh grade I went to Catholic school and I found out that I was truly a protestant, or as my English teacher would say a protest-ant. As we studied the teachings of the Catholic church, much of it made perfect sense to me since the Christian faith is one faith no matter what church you go to.
But other things didn’t make sense to me at all. I distinctly remember learning some teaching that didn’t make sense to me and didn’t fit what I understood about scripture. I asked the teacher: “Where does that come from in the Bible?” The teacher didn’t have a good answer.
Part of my opposition was run of the mill teenage defiance; I was a pretty smart-allecky kid, after all. But part of my resistance was my reformation heritage coming through. I’ve come to value that heritage more and more. We celebrate the reformation today not to disrespect our Catholic brothers and sisters, but to stir up the spirit of the reformers in our church and in our lives.
Whenever we take scripture seriously, reformation naturally follows. That’s because scripture is God’s word, and God’s word is powerful to challenge, encourage, empower and change us. God has blessed the church with a huge variety of interpretation. Some Christians read the Bible literally; others with a more critical view. We can be faithful either way.