Martin Luther rebelled against the corruption of the then Roman Catholic Church after having read the scriptures for himself. Having discovered the good news of forgiveness through the Cross, instead of trying to find forgiveness through the rules and regulation of the Catholic teachings, he then set about writing his sermons and thoughts so the people of Germany, his home country, could understand this for themselves.
In contrast to the superiority of the priests and the Pope, Luther defines himself " A Christian is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone, or as St Paul puts it 'Though I be free from all, yet have I made myself servant of all".
I particularly liked one of the small booklets he wrote, where he included the contrasting lives of Christ and the then Pope. "The contrasts were: Christ washing the disciples' feet and the Pope holding out his toe to be kissed; Christ bending under His cross and the Pope carried in state on men's shoulders; Christ driving out the money-changers out of the temple and the Pope and his servants turning a church into an Indulgence mart, and sitting, surrounded with piles of money and strong boxes; and so on. 'It was a good book for the laity' Luther said."
I am finding Luther's teachings so refreshing bearing in mind that his life was in constant danger. He wrote for the ordinary person and peasant so they could understand for themselves the wonderful news and the freedom of the Gospel - I am not sure I would really appreciate his theological discourses as much!
This all happened over 500 years ago, yet in last week's national newspaper ( The Australian) there was an article about a contemporary issue, and the article contained a paragraph "This repugnant statement summed up what is the first and last commandment of the ideology of political correctness: 'We love and accept everyone. Except any we disagree with. We hate those people and we will destroy them".
That was just the thinking of the Roman Catholic Church towards Martin Luther and indeed many of the Christians of his time - destroy those with whom you disagree, instead of opening your mind and analysing what they have to say to see if maybe they might be correct.
Much has been said lately about the perils of political correctness in our universities and work places, and indeed a number of prominent Christians have been brought before the authorities for quoting/teaching certain 'touchy' subjects from the Bible. The religious authorities of Luther's time did not like was he was saying, but he maintained his stance against them and look what eventuated - the Reformation and freedom of Christians from the ( usually corrupt) rules and regulations of the then Church authorities.
When Josiah of Old Testament times became King, he read the writings of the Law then set about to implement them. "He did not turn aside to the right or to the left", and this would have not been easy as the people of Judah had not bothered about God for some time.
When the teachings of the Bible are neglected, especially in Christian circles, it is so easy for rules and regulations to replace the freedom of the Christian and the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life. The life of Martin Luther is such a glaring example of this. The scriptures were available to only the most educated so gradually the Christian life became corrupted with rules and regulations. Martin Luther preached freedom through the Cross of Christ, the true Gospel message, and suddenly all those rules and regulations became redundent.
As King Josiah refused to turn aside from what the Law said for his time, so it is important for Christians to keep learning from the Bible - the freedom we have in Christ.
Rules, as well intentioned as they may be, will never replace the freedom we have in Christ.