Coram Deo

October 30, 2013 admin

lutherSo whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Each year when the neighborhood children are celebrating Halloween, I think of Martin Luther.

That’s because many see October 31st, 1517 as launch date of the Protestant Reformation.

Brother Martin, an Augustine monk, was increasingly distressed about what he saw in the church at Rome: the tolerating of clerical abuses, the sale of indulgences to expedite the passage of loved ones from purgatory, the power and excessive wealth of the pope, and what Luther saw as an accelerated drift away from the authority of Scripture.

To protest, on that last day of October he nailed his Ninety-Five Theses – a document of observations critical of Romans Catholic church practice – to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony (modern day Germany).

In that culture, the church door was akin to a public bulletin board. The people were ready for change, and in an astounding example of 16th century social media, Luther’s document had been circulated throughout Germany within 2 weeks. By the end of 30 days, it was being read all over Europe.

And in so doing, he unleashed a torrent whose theological, social and political effects continue to be felt throughout the western world 500 years later.

Luther was a scholar, a champion rebel, a linguist, and a political reformer – but I most admire his ability to make simple application of the Scripture to practical Christian living.

In the verse above, Paul is calling on Christians to honour God in the mundane things of life (eating and drinking) – in everything, and in every day.

Luther distilled this concept into the Latin phrase Coram Deo. This simply means “before the face of God”.

Takeaway: implicit in that maxim, is the uncomfortable realization that God sees all, that nothing –even what I think! – escapes His gaze. But for the Christ-follower, the phrase reflects our higher vocation: we are called to live – we have the privilege to live – in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and to the honour of God!