“Wo Christus ist, geht er allzeit wider den Strom.” That phrase jumped off the plague on the wall as I stood in Martin Luther’s home (now museum) in Wittenberg, Germany. The translation to English was directly below. “Where Christ is, there he always goes against the flow.” Words penned by Martin Luther in 1517.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk. A professor at Wittenberg University. A priest for Wittenberg’s City Church. Then, he was gripped by holy discontent. While in the Wittenberg Monastery, Luther was reading through the New Testament book of Romans when he had a decisive religious enlightenment. He realized that people receive salvation through the grace of God, not through good works. Soon, Luther became repulsed by the prevailing flow in the church. Church leaders were selling salvation. The wealthy could bypass confession and purchase grace. You could even redeem the sins of the deceased if you could afford it. Luther chose to go against the flow.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a letter to his superiors on the door of the Castle Church across town. His “against the flow” letter listed 95 reasons why the sale of “indulgences” should be halted. Luther considered this practice as an abusive and manipulative distortion of scripture, primarily designed to bail the church out of a financial crisis. Tension, debate, excommunication, trials and resistance escalated intensely for the next four years until Luther was banned to the Wartburg Castle for nearly a year. Finally, the direction of flow began to change. Luther’s protest was the catalyst for what we now know as the Protestant Reformation.
As for me, I want to be where Christ is. And where Christ is, there he goes against the flow. How did Christ go against the flow in his time? He always chose relationship over rules. Love over hate. Peace over violence. Acceptance over judgment. Being over doing. Gentleness over harshness. Conviction over compromise. Generosity over greed. And finally, the cross over comfort.
Where are you being asked to go against the flow today? Could it be the trend in our culture toward throw-away marriages? The mentality that if it is hard, it isn’t worth doing. Bail and run. Find another soul mate?
Is going against the flow for you mean to say no to a consumerist, got-to-have-more, go-in-debt mentality that leads to the opposite of financial peace?
Or could going against the flow today cause you to break away from a “live and let live” mindset that keeps you from having firm convictions, morals and ethics that stand tall under intense pressure in your business?
Does going against the flow mean you will resist the pressure to work more but instead invest more time in your spouse and children so you have the best chance for a healthy family that is living on mission?
Maybe going against the flow is as simple as turning off all the email, text and social media notifications so you can give your undivided attention to your family and friends in front of you?
Maybe you just need to determine where Christ is in your situation and circumstance. Where he is, there he goes against the flow. So, will you be swept downstream today or will you go upstream with him? It’s your choice.
QUESTION: What is the one area of your life right now where God is calling you to go against the flow? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.