Reflections: Friday of the 14th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: 2 Kings 9:1-13; 10:18-29; Philippians 2:12-30

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)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It’s always tempting to cherry pick. It’s a big book. Grab a little here and there and you can make the Bible support anything. It’s a bad sign when the book you believe to be the Word of God is quoted by the KKK. This is how that happens: They cherry pick, taking away the context and narrative, and by doing so, take away the truth.

It’s called idolatry. Idolatry is using God’s words to parrot your own instead of letting yours respond to His in joyful liturgy. Idolatry is using a book that expresses God’s will of salvation as a place to find bumper sticker slogans that express your own will. In doing so you lose any word from outside of yourself that would actually speak from God to you. And with it, any help, answer to something you didn’t already know, and any comfort He wishes you to have.

But idolatry is chiefly found in exactly what Paul won’t let stand by itself: the idea that we must work out our own salvation. Full stop. If that’s all there is, fear and trembling won’t be an issue. So he keeps going. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Not your words. His. Not your will. His. Not your works. His. For you. Through you.

His good pleasure is found here, in working out your salvation apart from you, but also through you at the same time. He won your salvation apart from you on a Cross thousands of years before you were born. That was even His fear and trembling as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that this cup might pass from His hands. He delivered your salvation to you in time and space in the waters of your Baptism. He sustains you in this salvation by faith. He supplies you through His Word that expresses His will. And now it’s your salvation even though He won it, and even the fear and trembling become no longer a place to find worry over salvation, but a place where the old idolater is drowned each day as the Lord raises the new man to live before Him in righteousness and purity forever. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen

Thy will be done, O LORD, that old Adam would daily drown and the new man arise, that the
Cross which redeemed us would be made to be the source of our hope, joy, and salvation, through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.