Working Out Our Salvation

Last week we learned about two contrasting paradigms for SALVATION.  The secular humanist paradigm focuses on the human self with no need for God.  The biblical paradigm focuses on God, with the self finding fulfillment and flourishing in Christ.

This week, we're looking at Paul's words in Philippians 2:12-18.  

This section immediately follows the great Christological hymn which declares that Jesus poured himself out ("emptied himself") so that people would know full life in him.  In the context of this letter, it was this act of self sacrifice which makes Jesus "Lord."  And:

Because Jesus is Lord, we must live out our salvation together.

1) We must live out our salvation with thrill and awe.
Paul's phrase "fear and trembling" may not sit well with all readers.  But Paul isn't suggesting we feel dread or terror of God, which evokes reactions like anger and confusion.  Rather, Paul is suggesting we feel the kind of thrill that comes from being aligned with God -- a real, living being with a mind and a will, who is far more powerful than we.

2) We must live out our salvation for others' benefit.
When we have a transformational experience, it's natural for us to share it with others.  So why can it be so difficult to share our lives in Christ with the world who needs it so desperately?  Paul writes that as we work out our salvation, our efforts to be "blameless and pure" lead us to shine like lights among the world.  

3) We must live out our salvation with joy.
Paul enjoined his readers to be glad and rejoice with him -- even though he was writing from prison and probably believed this imprisonment might be the end of his earthly life.  Living out our salvation is not meant to be dreary or dire, or hasty or self-righteous.  Instead, we have the opportunity to shine among the world by the joy we experience in our lives with Christ.

Reflect:
- Have you ever had an experience of thrill or awe that you would say was also "scary?"
- Whom do you know that would benefit from seeing the light of the gospel shining in your life?
- Do you experience joy in your daily life?  Why or why not?  What power do you have to choose a life that includes joy?  What prayer can you bring to the living God, who saves you, to lead you into a new season of joy?

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