“Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh
and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—
is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires,
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.“
1 John 2:15-17
506 years ago, on October 31, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of
the All Saints’ Church in Germany. This sparked the Protestant Reformation and marked the beginning of many branches of Protestantism.
I am not sure about you, but I love looking up women who have had great faith and
seeing what I can learn from them. So, when I was thinking about the reformation, I wondered about women who played a role in it, and I ended up stumbling across Katherina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther.
The Life of Katherina
“Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth.”
“So therefore, any one of you
who does not renounce all that he has
cannot be my disciple.”
Katharina was born in Germany to a family of nobility. At 5-years old, she was sent to a
catholic convent, and then at age 9, she moved to monastery where she became a catholic nun. During her time as a nun, she and many of her friends became dissatisfied with their lives and desired to leave the monastery. There was an issue for Katharina and her friends though: it was a crime to leave the monastery, and there were harsh punishments for it (like being tortured and imprisoned). So, having been interested in the reformation taking place, she reached out to Martin Luther, and asked for his help in escaping the monastery.
Luther aided in the escape of Katherina and her friends, and then sought to help the
women reunite with their families. Having committed the crime of leaving the monastery, the women’s families would not take them in. This left Luther with few solutions aside from marrying the women off. Luther found a husband for each woman before eventually marrying Katharina himself. In her new role as a wife, Katharina took over managing the house, finances, and business for Luther, and eventually they had 10 children. Luther died, and Katharina was left to face may financial trials before facing her own death.
Leaving All Behind
When I was reading about Katherina, I was struck by two things. First, she left the only
life she knew behind, in pursuit of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. Second, as she left the only life she knew behind, she stepped into a life that she would have known almost nothing about (being a wife).
I grew up catholic – so catholic that I thought I was going to be a nun. Then, when I was 19, God softened my heart to serving Him (Praise God!) and I left the catholic church. I never became a nun having to flee a monastery, but I was catholic and had to leave the life that I knew so much about behind. When I left the church, I had so many questions about what to believe. I was a little lost, but I knew that what I wanted was to glorify
God and enjoy Him forever, and I knew that God would grow me in wisdom each day.
Just as Katherina had to leave behind her monastery, we are called to leave behind our
lives and follow Christ. The Church has a long history of this. The disciples left behind their lives as fishermen and followed Christ. Paul left behind his life as a Pharisee and followed Christ. Time and time again, we see people leave behind their lives or the worldly things they love so that they can follow Christ.
We are called to leave behind the comforts of the world so that we can run the race of
faith well. For some it may look like leaving a job you’ve held for a long time. For others it may look like leaving behind your iPhone and returning to a flip phone. Some might need to leave behind friendships that lead them into sin. Whether you are leaving a person, place or thing, we are called to pick up our cross and follow Christ. Katherina did this, and she serves as a sense of encouragement to me. What do you need to leave behind to serve Christ more fully?
“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”