Philip Melancthon, 1497-1560, was a German scholar and a humanist. He was a little delicate man, cautious, and a very smart genius who worked with Martin Luther. Luther, on the other hand, was a “bull in a china closet”, reckless and rough, like a hard-charging “tank” fighting an enemy. As a magnet requires two different poles, these two, very different individuals complemented each other. Melancthon soften Luther’s toughness so that people would not be afraid of his actions but would actually listen to what he had to say. It was Melancthon’s complementary disposition and political inspite that got Martin Luther be in the right place, at the right time. It took the two of them, working differently but in tandem, to get the job done. We must learn to celebrate our differences; that we are, in fact, all different parts of one body in Christ, that is brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-20 ESV)
In the very important “Lutheran Reformation”, Philip Melancthon (noted above) was in his own right, a great intellect of wide learning. He represented Luther at many conferences, and even wrote and presented the Augsburg Confession in 1530. Melanchthon was friends with John Calvin so after Luther’s death, Melanchthon, not being a good leader but willing to compromise on doctrinal issues continued to bring groups together in the Reformation.
Today, we Protestants owe a great deal to the Reformers; all Protestant Christians have heard of Martin Luther; we even have the denomination called Lutheran after him. But how many of you have heard of Philip Melanchthon? Just think if it were not for Philip Melanchthon, there would be no “Lutheran”! Melanchthon provided the catalyst for the Lutheran break-away experiment to begin and to finish. Without the calming impact of Melanchthon, most would not have even heard Luther’s argument. This is “Good Symmetry” over time in the developing actions from people not knowing the true impact of their work, people facing great opposition, people continuing through their long-term commitment to their LORD.