Devotion: Philippians 2:12-13Following the amazing declaration that Jesus Christ will be the one that everyone proclaims as Lord to the glory of God the Father (2:10-11) we read this:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." -Philippians 2:12-13 ESVThe Apostle has heard from Epaphroditus that the Philippian church has been practicing infighting. This is why he called them to humility, that in turn is in service to unity. When we are humble it leads us to put the needs of others before our own and that leads to a community united in mission. So where does it all start? The Apostle is clear it begins and ends with Christ.
So what then of all of this fear and trembling? The Apostle is calling the Philippians to humility and unity. As he is in prison he cannot go to them, yet his authority still resides over them. He calls them to realize the power of salvation in Christ and how they must, TOGETHER, work out the implications of that salvation. This should be done in fear and trembling as they, an unholy people, now stand exposed to a holy God. It is not that somehow their work will gain their salvation, but rather they have salvation now they must figure out how to live together as the newly constituted people of God.
At the time that I write this to you the United States has just had a presidential election. In the wake of a national election (and we only elect one position nationally every four years) the sharp and stark divides in our country are exposed. Some will gloat in victory. Some will lament in defeat. Others will take matters too far on both sides and use the election as an excuse for all sorts of vileness and hatred. Sisters and brothers, it cannot be so among us who call Jesus Lord. We have one Lord and as such, we are one people. Like the Philippians we need to learn to live and love together in the midst of differences. This is precisely what the Apostle is getting at in our passage this week.