Semper Reformanda is an ancient maxim that means always reforming. It was an important term during the reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg church. The theses were an appeal, calling the church to reform its beliefs and practices to that which is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. The idea behind Semper Reformanda is that the church is called to continually reform, submitting itself to the headship of Christ and the teaching of the scriptures.
The reason I wanted to meditate on this term briefly in this post is because the perpetual need for reformation is something resisted both in the life of the individual Christian and in the life of the church. It wasn’t that long ago that I fully realized how wrong I was earlier in life when I believed that there was some arrival point when the “dust would settle” and I would actually feel as though I’d fulfilled my calling and purpose in life and ministry. I have since found that my expectation was completely false. There is always going to be struggle, hardship, humbling, learning, challenges, and change. When I came to accept this reality, I quit looking for “Disneyland” and began trying to understand the immense value of the journey. With this realization my discontent relented and I actually began to see the challenges before me as opportunities to grow in Christ and depend upon Him. Of course, my admission to the need for personal reform is a confession that I have not and will never “arrive” in this lifetime. Despite this I am so thankful to now know that this life’s journey will continually lead me to the deep well of joy realized in my weakness and found God’s supply.
Within the church Semper Reformanda must also be embraced. Too often leaders in the church erect doctrinal and methodological fences that become untouchable and unquestionable. I am not suggesting that there aren’t foundational orthodox beliefs that must be fought for and maintained; however, so much of our resistance to change is often grounded in an unwillingness to be humbled and submit ourselves to the calling to always reform, always adapt, always submit, and always depend. Semper Reformanda!