It’s been several weeks since I did a posting. The big event is now over. We had a great week (and weekend) with family and friends celebrating Melissa’s marriage. I hope to find some time this week to do a special post with pictures of that event. Linda & I also had alovely weekend getaway forour anniversary ove theLaborday weekend and I have an interesting "nature story" to tell about that. However I don’t have time to it justice this morning.
On Sunday morning Paul Hillier is leading a study on Philippians and I was struck but the phrase in Philipians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.
Now there are several very significant thoughts that can be drawn from this statement but I was drawn to ask “What work is this that God has begun in these people? (and presumably has also begun in all who have surrendered themselves to Jesus in to-day’s world). I thought almost immediately of one of my favorite passages in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.
This could suggest that the work God is doing in us is that we are doing those good works that come about from his workmanship (Poiema). However, on further reflection, this conclusion doesn’t seem to fit. In Ephesians it is “we” who are the results of his work (workmanship) -- that is it seems Ephesians is dealing with God’s work in creation – not this ongoing work (through the Spirit) in our Christian lives that Philippians 1:6 refers to.
So again I asked . “What work is this that God has begun in these people? I started thinking about the whole “grace vs. works” dialog – but it didn’t seem to be very relevant because “grace” is about God’s work –and “works” is about human work”. Since this passage clearly has something to do with God’s work which provides (gives) us something, it has nothing to do with human works or even the human response to God’s work – it seems (by definition) to be describing the results that God’s grace has on our lives.
Where I ended up was a place I come to frequently-of late-- which is that many of our difficulties in understanding the Bible come from the way we frame our questions. (or at least the way we rule out certain answers to our questions from the “get go”). In this case I started from the view that this “work” couldn’t be talking about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus because that was a “once for all’, completed work of redemption- it was done yeras before the Philippian letter was written – so any discussion of an “ongoing work” couldn’t be talking about this “completed work.”
But as I think of it,it seems to me that that is exactly the work that is referred to here --but then how do we deal with the apparent contradiction of a completed work that is ongoing in my life?
Well I don’t know if I’ve really got the whole picture here but I’ve come to this view—we mix up how God’s sees us with how we experience life (see ourselves). When we read about the completed work – this is how God sees it—after all God exists outside time- time has no relevance to Him so he sees it all – beginning to end. (and it will drive most of us crazy if we really try to grasp what it means to live outside of time—or to put it another way to have the ability to see time in the universe in a similar fashion to the way I can look out the window and see my neighbors house in the distance or even walk over there and see it up close)
So – for Christians who have been “saved by grace through faith” God sees the results of a completed work – he sees perfection because our imperfections are covered by the blood of Jesus. Meanwhile ”back in time on this earth” we are still living in these imperfect bodies and with flawed thinking -- we are like the caterpillar who is being reborn as a butterfly—it doesn’t happen instantaneously (and indeed our metamorphosis is a curious one that can fluctuate in in progress) – some days we seem to have emerged and matured and be in full flight—other days we are back in the cocoon wondering if we’d might go back to being a caterpillar and other days we are struggling to emerge from the cocoon – strengthening our wings by the fight to cast of the constraints of our flaws and weaknesses. The good news is that as long as we are surrendering our will to God through Jesus – God only sees the full fledged perfect butterfly and even more good news – which is the point of Philippians 1:6 he (through his Spirit) is there with us in the cocoon, as we struggle to fly or in the rare days we actually take flight – no matter where we are in the experience of that process He is there with us – and Paul states his confidence (as he does elsewhere cf. Romans 8:38) that those who place their trust in Jesus will be carried through to experience the completed work --
So it’s all about God’s work and it’s all about my surrender to him and trust in him. And as I surrender he will give things to do in my life because it is needed to help me break free from the cocoon and fly—I need to ”just do it” without worrying about whether I’m good enough. (because no matter how much I do or how well I do it I’ll never be a perfect butterfly BUT God’s only sees the butterfly not the flaws I see).
Well I guess that’s enough preaching (to myself) for this morning. If there is something here that helps you praise God for that. But in any case for me –as the sun creeps over the horizon and spills into my living room – I say “ this is the day the Lord has made- I will rejoice and be glad in it”
I also haven’t been do much blog “visiting” recently but here are a couple of older items that I had noted.
August 29 - Dee Andrew’s talks about controlling the thinks we can control in her August 23 post (click HERE)
And includes this quote from an unknown source
You can't control the length of your life, but you can control its width and depth. You can't control the contour of your face, but you can control its expression. You can't control the weather, but you can control the atmosphere of your mind. Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?
August 29 – John Dobbs posts an excellent lesson on “Being a confident Christian” based on Hebrews 10 (click HERE)