I continue to be in the "Luther mode", discovering more insights and ideas of his that move me forward as I go along. This is my most recent insight, another wonderful quote by Luther:
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith."
"Die Freude ist der Doktorhut des Glaubens."
In German there is an inbuilt pithy humor within this saying, but in English you get the idea as well. Those, who dedicate their lives to the matters of Spirit, and truly do so, grow out of a sense of burden, out of the stress and strain of daily life, and eventually graduate as joy permeates the heart. Joy is the signature of everyone truly spiritually-minded, it is the sign of an active group of people serving a higher purpose than their own, it is the key feature of unselfishness.
There is a list of qualities that define the result of Spirit in our experience. Paul writes in his epistle to various groups of Christians in Galatia (fun fact: Today a region in Turkey around Ankara, the capital):
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (Gal. 5: 22, 23. NLT)
Right after love, the second on the list, comes joy. The state of being happy! I observe, that individuals who know something about God and have stepped into the world of unselfishness and spiritual observation, have a certain warmth and glow about them. It is not the joy the stems from well-being, success, or good fortune. It is more than an emotion or feeling. There is no room for doubt or fear left in a heart which feels the presence of Spirit.
There is little space for the story of desperation, which excludes the allness and onliness of Spirit. So if joy doesn't stem from well-being, success, or good fortune, we can now safely say that it stems from spiritual well-being, success, and good fortune - the good life which is the result of divine Love and filled with the yearning for the prospect of seeing more of Spirit in our and everyone's experience.
If the question of "graduation" comes up, we will get the question what subject we are graduating in. What is the content of faith? What is the doctrine? Here is an answer from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy:
"This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into
sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death." (p. 304)
Can you accept this doctrine? And graduate in the faith? And come up with your own test system, whether you understood it enough to graduate? Is there enough joy in your heart to throw it around like confetti? Joy is the standard, and once you have graduated, you will never unlearn it.
"Joy is the graduation cap of faith!" It is looking pretty good on you.
(You can find the previous posts on "What is joy?" by using the search box on my website. Simple.)
October 31, 1517, the monk and university professor Martin Luther marched up to the castle church in Wittenberg, with a piece of paper, a few nails and a hammer, and posted 95 theses at the door. What was intended to start a theological disputation lit the flame of the reformation, the split between the catholic and protestant churches. It changed the world forever - it not only changed the landscape of Europe, leaving millions dead, it also pushed open the door for the modern age, moved forward the freedom of conscience, the respect for learning --- and, for many people most importantly, put the Bible into the hands of the people. Luther who had been excommunicated for challenging the authority of the Roman-catholic church, was hid until march 1522 in the Wartburg, where he translated the New Testament into German - into the vernacular, the language people spoke in their homes, on the market, in the field. When the first edition was printed in 1522, the 3000 copies were sold in three days, and Luther saw the 1 millionth copy sold before he died in 1546. Although this was not the first translation into any vernacular, it was his Bible which broke the walls of translation in western Europe, and once this wall was down, the Bible was no longer the privilege for the clergy. It was the people's book. And with this empowerment of the individual the world was never the same.
In Germany, this translation was continually revised in a respectful way to keep up with the intention to have a book that speaks a language people can understand. The most recent Luther Bible, used in all protestant churches, is a revision of the most recent years - and is still called the Luther Bible. The newest revision, as it was published by the editorial board, is so fresh because it went back to the original in many places.
It seems to me that all true reformative movements don't start with strategy but with fearlessness and one very good question. Luther is reported as saying, that he was looking for a God he could love. Authentic fearlessness comes from a deep love, a link to conscience, to true understanding. You never desert what you truly love. Once you have reached this place in your own heart, the world is no longer a match. Luther's fearless trust in the Biblical message led not only to reformed Christianity, it also opened his life to several healings, and you can read about some of them here.
I have been pondering fearlessness and courage as a golden thread running through Luther's life, and this thread is evident in quotes from his many theological writings, sermons, and notes from his "table talks". They ring true today.
Here are some of Luther's sayings:
"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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