«It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day» (Proverbs 24:5, MSG).
On April 17, 1521, Martin Luther was summoned to appear before the Diet of Worms. The Augustinian monk would face a truly frightening committee: Emperor Charles V, six German electors, papal legates, archbishops, bishops, dukes, princes, representatives from imperial cities, ambassadors from far away courts and numerous high-ranking dignitaries.
It was too much pressure for the humble friar. In fact, he hadn’t been able to sleep for several nights. He didn’t have any weapons except for the Scriptures and the vigor of his preaching. But a crucial moment in his life had come. Worms was swarming with comments about the daring German monk. Most people forewarned he would soon be burning at the stake. Who was he to cause such important people to gather? What relevance could his words have? How could he have gone so far?
Before appearing before the Diet, Luther was a bundle of nerves. Then, he was summoned to enter the hall. As the friar was going to the place where religious and secular authorities awaited him, Georg von Frundsberg, an old warrior, tapped Luther’s shoulder and told him, «My poor monk, my poor monk, you’ll face something neither I nor any of my fellow knights have ever had to live through in our hottest battles. If you’re sure of the justice of your cause, then forward in God’s name and be of good courage: God will not forsake you.»
After hearing the accusations of the Pope’s representatives, he answered with the historic words, «If, then, I am not convinced by proof from Holy Scripture, or by cogent reasons—I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to the council, be- cause it is as clear as noonday that they have fallen into error and even into glaring inconsistency with themselves—if I am not satisfied by the very text I have cited, and if my judgment is not in this way brought into subjection to God’s Word, I need the can nor will retract anything; for it cannot be either safe or honest for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen.»
Luther’s words marked the beginning of the struggle for freedom of conscience. The courageous German monk survived a sure death. He defended his convictions at the expense of his own life.
Are you a person with solid convictions? How far are you willing to go to defend what you believe in? Ideas are a more powerful weapon than you think. That’s why «it’s better to be wise than strong.»