. . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12b-13
In the journey of faith, it is sometimes easy to get sucked into the notion that everything is up to me; that is, that the proverbial “ball is in my court.” Historically, many theologians and philosophers have suffered the opposite fate, concluding that we play no part whatsoever and God simply brings about his “meticulous will,” as if we’re bystanders watching things play out, yet having no part in the play. This is where passages like Phil. 2:12-13 help us to see there really is a healthy, godly balance between the two errant perspectives. It is vital that we come to see that, on the one hand, everything really is not up to us and, on the other hand, we play a key role in the cosmic scheme of things. It is a marvel to consider that although God does not need us, yet He lovingly invites us into a collaborative, eternally significant, work. We get to work with God.
Both God and His redeemed children have a work to work. The work we are to work is an outward work. It is the work of working out what God has put in us. It is the work of working out the implications of our personal redemption in Christ. It is the work of abiding and embodying the future life of the Kingdom in the here and now. In a true and fundamental sense, God enables us and empowers us to be who we are; that is, He enables us and empowers us to be who we are in Christ. Since we have not yet “arrived” and consistently fall short, the “working out” of our salvation certainly comes with “fear and trembling.”
The work that God works is a work by His Spirit within us. It is a work that must precede an outward expression. Lest God work in us He will not work through us. Permission is paramount here. Permission must be granted to the Almighty to work in us, and as He is given permission (i.e.. Lordship), He begins to work on our hearts to desire what He desires for us. This God-given (internal) desire leads to God-enabled (external) behavior, and hence, this God-enabled (external) behavior makes manifest the (internal) “good purpose” of God. Make no mistake, God is certainly the Initiator and Orchestrator of this divine dynamic. And what a glorious dynamic it is! It is no wonder that observers of history have called this dynamic the “divine dance.”
Question for the Day:
Am I working out what God is working within?