Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oh Grow Up

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13  for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14  Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15  so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 16  It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. 17  But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you-- 18  and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.

Paul urges the Christ-followers in Philippi to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”.  This is not saying that salvation is obtained through work. Paul’s repeated affirmation for salvation by grace through faith is beyond question. Instead, this is a blunt injunction to “grow up and live as an adult Christian”. This is the point at which Paul tells those who follow Jesus that they are to get on with being Christ-like of their own accord, without needing a supervisor.  They are to cultivate the capacity “both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure…without murmuring and arguing”.

How sad it is when Jesus-followers live life in a way that constantly needs direction from someone else. We do not need a pastor, or a theologian, or a text from the Bible to give us permission to live life. Instead we can confidently trust the Spirit of God to guide us as we draw on our experience, our faith’s tradition, on our reading of the Bible, and our common sense. Let us beware of becoming so afraid of putting a foot wrong that we end up doing nothing at all. I dare us all to become pioneers who allow our passion for the values of Jesus to reshape the norms of social convention into something more Christ-like.

For Thought:
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”
Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

Third Sunday after Trinity
33 Christian Maturity
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 207.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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