The First Reformation Happened 2,000 Years Ago
As the time for Jesus’s sacrificial death approaches, his enemies come to arrest him. They’re armed. This might be as a show of force or maybe because they expect trouble. I imagine Jesus smiling a bit at this weapon-wielding mob. “Do you think I’m leading a rebellion?” he asks (Luke 22:52).
For sure they view him as a troublemaker. They see his teaching as a threat to their way of life and their tenuous position in the Roman empire. Yes, they may think he is leading a rebellion.
However, Jesus isn’t leading a physical rebellion. But in a spiritual sense he is ushering in a spiritual rebellion, a great reformation.
Jesus Reforms Religion
Jesus comes to fulfill the Old Testament Law. This means a change in perspective and practice from what was to something new. Instead of following a bunch of rules — some that came from God and a whole lot that men made up—Jesus turns their religion into a relationship with God.
No longer do we need to act a certain way to become right with God. Gone is a requirement that we must earn our right standing with God. He gives it to us freely. We only need to accept it. Personal change occurs after we’re in a right relationship with him.
No longer is good behavior a prerequisite. (Check out Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus Reforms Our Connection with God
Two views of our understanding of God occur in the Bible. One is to fear him, and the other is to love him. Though both perspectives occur throughout the Bible, we see the Old Testament as more fear-based and the New Testament is more love based.
Yes, we must still fear God and love him, but Jesus reforms our perspective and we can now focus on God’s love for us and our love for him. Because he first loved us, we can now love him. (Check out 1 John 4:19.)
Jesus Reforms Our View of Others
The Old Testament Law resulted in societal isolation. On the national level, God wanted his people to segregate themselves from other nations. He feared the practices of other countries would negatively influence his own people. He was right.
On a individual level, God wanted his people to separate themselves from those who were unclean, those who didn’t conform to his high standards. This showed them there are people to associate with and not to associate with, but they went overboard with it.
They ended up judging everyone in looking down on those who they felt didn’t measure up to God’s (and their) standards.
Jesus turned this thinking on its head. He reformed how we should view others. Jesus loved the people on the fringes of society, and so should we. Instead of judging others, Jesus showed grace and mercy, and so should we.
The only people Jesus confronted were the religious elite who made a mess of the rules that God originally gave to Moses. We too should confront religious leaders who pervert our relationship of God and what the Bible teaches about it.
Jesus’s Reforms Are a Spiritual Rebellion against the Religious Status Quo
In a spiritual sense, Jesus is leading a rebellion. And he invites us to join him in that. Together we can reform the religious status quo and embark on a fresh new way of understanding God and our relationship to him.
It’s time for another spiritual reformation.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.