In Athens (Acts 17:16-34), Apostle Paul met with the Epicureans (people who lived by their pleasures – eat, drink and make merry for tomorrow we die ) and the Stoics (people who rely heavily on logic). These men took Paul to their center and wanted to hear his religious views. Paul noted that there were many gods and idols is their town, even one to the “unknown god.” Today we too have many gods, things we trust and in many ways worship – education/intelligence in all its forms and pleasure. We want our lives to be fulfilled and lived to its potential – for all. We call it equality and the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The problem is that life is not fair. We have the rich and we have the poor. The other problem is that there is the “unknown God,” the creator who made everything. We cannot see this being but we suspect from life that the being exists. Jesus Christ came claiming to be the embodiment of that God, revealing that God to us.
In Luther’s time, it was believed that there was a kind of spiritual hierarchy. The saints, because of their religious lives had more merit than the ordinary person and so if prayed to could intercede for a beloved departed. I have heard it explained that even as I ask a friend to pray for me, if saints are alive in heaven, I can ask them to intercede for me also. It kinda makes sense for prayer but not for salvation, The saints died but it is only Christ who walked through death who demonstrated real power in all areas of life and death. Protestants only recognize Christ’s death on the cross as salvatory. “There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)”
Luther confronted this hierarchy of values. He believed we, like the thief on the cross, had direct access to God and we did not need to go through a saint. Nor did he believe the Pope received special messages from God. This was revolutionary. Christ alone reveals the real nature of a God who walks with us, understand us, and has the power to walk us through death to new life. In Star Wars the good guys bless each other by saying, “The Force be with you!” Christians say, “The Lord bless you!”
Let us finish this week with one more acronym: