Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — 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 2:12-13
We live in an instant society, don’t we? It seems that we can get anything we want, how we want it, when we want it. A few weeks back, I was looking at upgrading a bit of our backyard landscaping, so I decided to head over to Home Depot to see what I could find. Now mind you, I’m not very good at gardening. I seem to have quite a knack for killing anything living and green. Perhaps you know what this is like as well.
As I entered Home Depot and asked someone for help, I was directed to the outside patio where I was met with a myriad of foliage options, all full-grown and ready to plant. I found an employee who was willing to help. I asked, “Not that I’m ready for this, but where are all the seeds? Do you still carry those?”
“Sure. But no one really uses them anymore. Too much work.”
It seems we live in a society where we want the instant result, off-the-shelf, and ready to go — but rarely are we willing to personally put in the effort required for the results we desire. We want the destination; we just don’t want the journey.
Oddly, we approach our faith in much the same manner. We want wholeness now. We want freedom now. We want peace now. Somehow we’ve bought into a myth that says once we embrace life in Jesus, it’s over — mission accomplished, we’ve reached the finish line. But what if embracing life in Jesus is just the start of the journey? What if, rather than crossing the finish line, all we’ve done is take a step across the starting line?
This is the experience of the people in the scriptures. Faith wasn’t about having all the right answers, or arriving at some final destination, but was about being in process. It was about interacting with the present and living God, always growing in their understanding of this God. That is why Paul writes what he does in Philippians 2:12-13.
He tells the followers of Jesus that just as they had done in the past, so they should “continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” In other words, don’t think you’ve arrived, but continue to wrestle with what it looks like to live this salvation kind of life in the here and now. He tells them to do this with “fear and trembling,” or with a sense of awe and importance, because to live this way is to expand the dream God has for this world — His good purpose for all things.
So, as you journey this week, approach your faith as a work in progress, asking yourself the question, “What might it look like for me to live the good news in the here and now?”
How might your life change if you could admit that you were in process — on a journey — rather than already at the destination? What areas are you currently in process with?
Genesis 32:22-30; Acts 15; Philippians 2:12-13