Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Philippians 2

Shoot, this chapter kicks my butt. So much in it challenges me about my deepest faults. I mean there are even verses that call me to not have any faults. That's rough. But it does start out with some consolation. I do know I have one purpose and I focus intensely on that. So it does bring some comfort and encouragement. But the point of the verse is for the body collectively to share that one purpose. And that's a much bigger issue to wrestle with.

But an even bigger mental wrestling match is verse 12. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For anyone who likes to only think about the wonderful free gift of grace and not follow up their faith in it with good works, this verse probably presents quite a snag. Yes, we were rescued from our sin through the undeserved favor offered for free through Christ, but, as this verse and the next make clear, God is working in us and through us on an ongoing basis to perfect the demonstration of His grace in us.

I welcome the thought that I am a work in progress. And the immense work God has done in and through me in the past few years has made me much more merciful when I think of what God just might be doing in others. Much less judgmental or quick to bring up people's past mistakes. I realize, because of how much I know I've changed, that it's very likely that that guy who was a jerk the last time I talked to him just might be under construction, too.

Verses 6-11 pack the biggest punch though. These rhythmic lines (in Greek anyway) were probably a hymn of the early church. But their beauty doesn't soften their meaning in this context. They just clarify the glaring differences between Jesus and us. I want to grasp. I want to cling to my own self-importance. I want people to notice how special I am. But Jesus Christ, the spoken Word who brought forth light, the living Word who surrendered to death, the written Word who pours into me each day through any chapter I turn to, the Son of the Most High God humbled Himself to my level to make God's grace attainable to me.

So why do I insist on scrambling for recognition? I may get a little better each day at conforming my actions to reflect His love, but that's not all this passage calls me to. Verse 5 demands that even my attitude imitates Christ's. I'm going to work that out with fear and trembling today, but honestly, this is something God will have to continue to work out in me for the rest of my life.

So, if you catch me on a particularly ugly day, be patient, God's not finished with me yet.


Bea said...

Beautiful!! I'll ask the same of you and all I meet---I am seriuosly aware I am a work in progress, and am nothing without His grace, mery and love. Keep growing.