Why work out our salvation with fear and trembling?
Is it because if we don't or worse yet, if we 'work' it out incorrectly by following false teachers, the consequences are eternally horrendous?
Why won't preachers in the pulpit preach the Good News from the perspective that Bad News are the consequence of not believing the Good News?
Are we not humble enoough? Are we not being obedient? To the point of death? Do we really believe that the name of Jesus is highly exalted and above every name, and that every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess Him as Lord, to the glory of God the Father?
If we don't, then I shudder with fear and trembling.
Rick in Va
It is the opening sentences of this passage that draw me. . . .
"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,"
If we are Christ's, then we should love one another as Christ does. "Be of one mind"? Surely he cannot mean that we should all think alike . . . Not conformity, but of one mind in terms of compassion and of service.
And Jesus' own closest followers included both tax collectors and zealots, total opposites, somehow united for the same goal . . . .
Which of us would choose such a motley crew as the one Jesus chose to realize such a grand design?
We live our lives by stories. I think this ancient hymn is meant to be seen in contrast to the story of the fall.
Adam existed in the form (image)of God.
Adam thought equality with God was something to be "grasped".
Adam tried to exault himself. As a result he was brought low.
That is the story most of us live by. Christ gives us a new story.
Christ existed in the form of God.
Christ did not think equality with God was something to be grasped.
Christ emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant.
Christ was exaulted.
Which story do we live by? Adam or Christ?
Kenosis--the emptying of himself. Great and mysterious, awesome concept. That God would step down from his throne to bleed and sweat and cry and eat and hug and laugh and do all the things we do. That's the wonder of Christ, and why my knees bow and my tongue confesses that he is my Lord. Nobody else could love me that much! - Tim in Deep River
What a great passage . . . gonna call my sermon after the old Mac Davis song: "Oh Lord, It's Hard To Be Humble!" . . . probably not original, but very appropriate . . . Paul's humbling "thorn" also comes to mind as I begin to brood over this passage.
--- Dave K. in Ohio <><
"God loves you and there's nothing you can do about it."
My message is titled "Serving Christ is a 24-7 Task!
I want to stress that we don't just serve Christ when we are overtly religious (in church, in prayer, on a mission trip), we serve Christ in all arenas of our life. This is just the beginning, but then today is Monday!
cgs in IL
Old Testament "Add Your Contribution" submission isn't working
Only Exodus 17 and Psalm 78 not working
Greetings, sisters and brothers... Great passage, but fraught with difficulties, as well. Title for this week is "Thinking Along the Same Lines." Last Sunday (9/19) was our Reunion Sunday, and I want to continue the theme of where do we go from here? Part of what's shaping my thoughts for this week is George Barna's book, "The Second Coming of the Church." Disturbing/challenging and a "must read," in my humble opinion. Now if I could only convince some of the parishioners to read all/part of it, perhaps we could all think along the same lines! Having the same mind as did/does Jesus Christ is so difficult, but there must be a way - there has to be! But that means folk have to stop thinking of themselves first, and seeking above all else to discern the mind and heart of Christ and the will of the Holy One. That shouldn't take too much effort, should it?!?
Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments? NYSREV
I'm also intrigued by the working out your salvation part which is in contrast to Paul's theme that we are saved by grace and not by works. I'm thinking of calling my sermon "Working Out" and using the analogy of working out - like a work out that is good for our bodies. We all know that exercise benefits us and that if we work out enough we reap the benefits. Also working out has to be daily and life long or we soon begin to feel the effects. Perhaps our souls need the same kind of work out to keep the spiritual muscle strong and healthy. The fear and tremebling part has me thinking. The most common words of the bible are "Fear not" so its not that kind of fear Paul is talking about. Is he talking about the fear that is awe that never takes for granted the mysterious ways that God works in our lives. We have the choice to work it out with God or to ignore it and become broken, bitter and disappointed people but with GOd we work out our salvation, what our life is all about and we get glimpses of joy and fullfilment and peace. Nina in the North
Exodus 17 not working! But I am thinking of pulling together both readings. Looking for feedback!
I read that the water in the desert is very hard. Anyone living in rural areas will know all about "hard water." The mineral deposite play havic with the pipes and sinks. If left unattended, the mineral deposites will need to be chipped away manually or with the use of acid. It has been suggested that Moses broke the hard, brittle mineral deposite that sealed the mouth of the watering hole. Whether it was or was not, the miracle is the same.
If we do not live our lives as Christ, humble (the rock of our foundation) then we become hard and brittle. Christ can chip away our hardness so that we might have life and become life-giving to others.
Just thinking about this... any thoughts? Wendy.QC
Re: Salvation in this passage, according to one of my resources on Paul- Paul is not using salvation here not in an eschotological sense, but in more of a healing sense. The salvation he is talking about is to do with the church itself, for them to work on the health of the church. It relates back to his telling them to be of one mind. This is the salvation Paul is referring to, not personal, after death.
And I am happy for I think I have finally found my sermon for the week in this. I think I am going to title it "Are you willing to be obedient?" I'll see how the Spirit moves as I write it.
Peace and Grace of God to all Pastor Debbie in ME
I am calling the sermon "Rx for Whinning", useing Ex 17 as an ill. of whinning.Phil.2 is the Rx.
Rob in Ky.
Lots of suggestions for sermon titles already but here is one more:
"Humble, and damn good at it!"
AW-G Rocky Coast of Me
Good titles everyone!! I am thinking about calling my sermon "Therefore"... I am aiming to explore the grace that comes before, that enables us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling
JJ in Charleston SC
Does anyone think "working out your own salvation with fear and trembling" has ANYTHING to do with the emptying the one's self? Seems to me they cannot be separated, and the "fear and trembling" is referenced to that and its exceeding difficulty, and not at all to eternal judgement (if by that we mean "burning in Hell"). We are however already/always judged when we seek to "save our life instead of losing it for the sake of the gospel" -- I think Jesus said that maybe once or twice ;-) And the consequence of that judgement is hell on earth: lack of fulfillment, despair, loss of joy, meaninglessness, and ironicvally, EMPTINESS.
Barry in OH
Barry in OH, that's a good question. In the OT "fear and trembling" often occurs when the all nations will finally come before God, or when the defeated come before the victor. In Exodus 15:5(?) the chosen people come before God and Moses in this way because they have sinned. So I guess "fear and trembling" and "humility" have to go hand in hand. Perhaps it ties to the "every knee should bend," too. I still like the impetus of verse 1: encouragement comes from Christ. I think it comes directly from him in our personal faith and indirectly through the faith of the community. In any event, it is the community who are addressed in verse in verse 12 seeings how in the Greek the verb is plural and so is the pronoun yourselves. So we do this in a community inspired by Christ. Neal in NE
I'm having a hard time this week connecting with the discussion. My own problem--I am so in love with the incredible beauty of this passage (Paul can really dish it out sometimes!) that I can't relate to all the authority talk on the gospel and "working out our salvation" in this one (I know Paul says we have to do it, but we also have to admit that we CAN'T--not in such an independent, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps kind of way).
Then I realized that its only when we 'empty' ourselves of ourselves, when we have this spiritual kenosis experience, that our salvation IS worked out. And only then can we turn our 'yesses' into 'noes' and begin to be MOVED by the mind of Christ that has taken over in us.
I've always dreamed of being a mystic in the tradition of St. Teresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross. But a spiritual high is nothing until the rubber hits the road and we start serving Christ by serving each other.
The point, I guess, is that the spiritual side without the works side is nothing, and vice-versa. How many faith/works sermons do I have to preach before I finally really get it myself?!?
I am combining the three lessons under the title "Onerous Obedience". Moses was obedient in the face of a group of griping, grumbling, complaining, and quarreling fellow travellers. Jesus tells us a parable about two sons, one was obedient, the other was not. Perhaps the son saw obedience as too onerous. Do we? Jesus obedience was onerous: 1) He gave up equality with God, 2) He emptied Himself, 3) He became obedient to Death (Even on a Cross). The perfect example of onerous obedience. The epistle needs to go a few verses further because Paul imitates Jesus without murmuring or arguing (v.14), being poured out as a libation . . .with gladness and rejoicing (even while in prison).
Sorry, I forgot to sign off. KJ in Ohio
The title of my sermon, focussing on Philippians, is "Downward Mobility." It seems to me that our culture emphasizes upward mobility as the way to feed our souls. I think I will begin by reading some home ads out of the paper and talking about their appeal. Buying things and consuming exciting experiences do provide a measure of comfort. I know people who will go shopping when they are depressed or fix up some hot pancakes on a cold deary morning. But as Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount: life is more than bread. We are to seek first God's kingdom and justice. We are to be ministers.
The kind of downward mobility that Jesus models is far from selfless. In his version of the last supper, John tells us that it is when Jesus knows that he has come from God and is going back to God that he washes the feet of his disciples. Someone said that he had to have all power in order to lay it all down. Downward mobility requires self-discipline, empathy, charity, and imagination. Developing these abilities comes from opening our own minds to the mind of Christ. And these abilities feed our souls far more than any expensive homes, exciting vacations, shopping excursions, or comfort food. Dan in Buffalo
I know I'm adding a contribution late (Saturday morning) but trust that if this is truly a desperate preacher's site there are those who are "saturday night specials".
On the interstate this week a big black van stayed in the right shoulder as all the other cars merged slowly into one lane. The van, because of the driver's sense of self-importance flew up to the front of the line. I wondered why he thought where he was going was more important than where I was going. But of course, I have had the regular attacks of road rage and yelled at people from the safety of my car to get out of MY way. How would driving be different if we really did believe that others were more important than we are? MLE in IL
To Crystal....Being of one mind with Christ I think is having the same vision....seeing the plan and doing the will of God. How do we do that? Well, Paul reminds us that some are teachers, preachers, evangelists etc. ALl with different gifts and skills. And different ways of getting the job done.
I am going to take a bit from WIllemon and do something with dancing to a different beat. The world hears the music of the spheres and dances to that tune but we are out of step with the Master's great choreography. JEsus dances to a different beat and he leads.....we are to follow his lead. Lisa in Stonington
I am focusing on that wonderful, terrible, difficult, blessed sentence in the Philippians passage, "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus..." I have entitled my sermon "Are You Out of Your Mind?" and suggesting that Paul says that that would not be such a bad thing! We are to have the mind of Christ in us. I am even committing lectionary treason this week by pairing this passage in Philippians with Romans 12, especially verses 1-2 and 9-21 as a good "commentary" on the mind of Christ.
Peace to you all, Tom in Jamestown, NY