Carl Trueman, in his book Luther on the Christian Life, tells about being asked during an interview for a teaching position who he’d rather be trapped on a desert island with: Martin Luther or John Calvin. Trueman is a Presbyterian and agrees more with Calvin’s teaching but he said he finds Calvin to be “somewhat sour and colorless.” He told them he’d have to choose Luther because “he was so obviously human and so clearly loved life.”
The man who nailed the 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago today wasn’t afraid to let his humanity be seen and known. His freedom to be human came about because of his confidence in God’s grace. We don’t have to impress God or people in order to get a place in His kingdom. God is fully aware of how human we are and how sinful we are. But He still loves us. Our salvation is by God’s grace, meaning His undeserved blessings and goodness. When we’re confident of His grace and resting in His grace, than we’re not afraid if people see our failures and shortcomings. We’re secure that we’re forgiven and cleansed and loved, because we’re relying on God’s great grace.
Luther’s freedom to be human and his love for life were reflected in his sense of humor. Trueman writes: “One of the most striking things about the man is his sense of humor, and one cannot possibly write a book on his understanding of the Christian life without reference to this. In general terms, of course, Protestant theologians have not been renowned for their wit, and Protestant theology has not been distinguished by its laughter. Yet Luther laughed all the time … Humor was a large part of what helped to make him so human and accessible.”
Maybe one of the best ways to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation is to do what Luther often did: laugh. We laugh at our foolish attempts to run our own lives and fix our own problems without God’s help. We laugh at the absurdity of us thinking we can tell God what to do. We laugh like a child opening Christmas presents as we think of how incredible and astounding it is that God would take our place on the cross so we could have a place in His family. We laugh with joy and glee because of God’s glorious grace.