At the top of a week which saw observations as varied as All-Saints Day, Reformation Day, The Day of the Dead, and Halloween, I was thankful to hear a retelling of a seminal moment in Church history, specifically of the Protestant Reformation — excerpts of the speeches and prayers of Reformer Martin Luther. His famous, oft-quoted, closing words, that “…to act against one’s conscience is neither right nor safe…” struck me with even greater force than it previously had, as I was compelled to examine the profundity of Luther’s grasp of what constitutes SAFETY.
There he stood, at the mercy of a Council and authorities determined to incinerate not only his writings but his very person, yet he directed them to consider the danger he would be in should he violate the truths he had become convinced of, by the Scriptures, regarding God, Mankind and Christian faith.
My local fellowship’s current focus on the book of Daniel was without doubt informing my own reflections here, and I cannot help but believe that that prophetic book’s great testimony had also informed Luther’s as he answered at the Diet of Worms. He, like the young Hebrew exiles, held firmly in his grasp the reality that burning to death while tied to a stake, being thrown into a den of hungry lions or cast into a fiery furnace was rather to be chosen than the eternally self-destructive action of denying the integrity and basis of the regenerating, transformative experiences of the soul that has tasted fellowship with the true and living God.
And though there is a literal hell to shun, with its attendant physical tortures, heeding Luke’s counsel in chapter 12:4-5,
“And I say to you My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say, to you, fear Him!”,