Summary: How do we shine like stars in the dark sky? – By following Jesus in obedience, living out our salvation, not grumbling and arguing.
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Philippians 2:12-18 April 27, 2008
Shine like Stars
You may remember from last week, Paul talked about how our attitude in our relationships with each other should be like Jesus’. He doesn’t grasp at the power that is rightfully his, he serves, and he is obedient to the Father – even to the point of death.
Paul continues on to tell us that we, like Jesus, must also be obedient and the idea is to be obedient to God.
Obedience is not a high value in our culture – we make heroes of the disobedient – those who disobey orders to get the job done and bring about justice. The overly obedient are seen as milquetoast bean counters and yes-men. But the hero of our faith was completely obedient to God – not always to human institutions, but always to God.
Paul writes that we too are to be obedient to God. This might sound like a very boring way to live life. (again our cultural bias) But do you think Jesus led a boring life? Did Paul?
In this way, work out your salvation.
With all this talk of obedience, and working out your salvation with fear and trembling, we may be tempted to think that Paul is saying that we need to work our way into God’s good graces. If we obey well enough and do the right thing, God will be happy with us and save us from ruin.
But this is not what Paul is saying – it cannot be. All through Paul’s writing he has one message – that we cannot not earn our way into God’s Kingdom, that the only way in is through God’s grace, that if we try to earn our way in, we are going to miss the mark, but if we accept the free gift, it is ours. Paul spends Chapter three explaining that all the things that would be in his favour for earning his way into God’s good graces are meaningless in God’s economy of grace. It would be strange if 15 minutes of dictating before he said that we need to earn our salvation!
So what is he saying?
He is saying, “You are saved by what Jesus did for you on the cross – now work it out, act like it!”
I spent a long time trying to come up with a story, a metaphor from daily life, that would illustrate this idea, but I couldn’t & this tells you how different God’s grace is from the way the rest of the world works.
God’s grace, forgives us, and treats us as if we have never done anything wrong, and then invites us to act the way we have been treated! This just does not happen outside of God’s grace.
We have not just been saved from the punishment of sin
We have also been saved from the power of sin in our lives – we need to live in that freedom.
He says it differently, but in a beautiful way to the Ephesians:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.