Friday, March 27, 2015

Bearing with One Another - 11. Working Out Our Salvation

This is the last in a series of blog posts on bearing with one another –
especially when we find ourselves disagreeing with one another.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes,
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Fundamentally, this whole series has been about
an essential aspect of working out our salvation.

That we need salvation –
deliverance, healing, and forgiveness –
is evident enough.  

We are made for love and communion,
personal and social.

In spite of that,
we have seen through Jesus
that there is grace at the heart of all things.

With that grace we become aware that

With that grace we have also received mercy
God sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15),
forgives us (1 John 1:9),
and will finally heal all brokenness (Acts 3:21)

Human brokenness meets God’s grace at the foot of the cross
where we hear Jesus praying forgiveness upon us.
With the assurance of that forgiveness
we can dare to look at our own complicity in his death –
our own fingerprints on the hammer and nails –
and the myriad ways, great and small,
that we nail one another to the cross.

With that grace we can live lives worthy of that grace.

With that grace we are free. 

We are free to deny ourselves
and take up the cross
as we follow Jesus
in his way of self-sacrificial love.
We are free to accept that we are often wrong.

with open hearts and open hands.

We are free to live kindly and
resist the temptation to bear false witness against others.

We are free to work out our salvation.

The second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians describes what that looks like. It looks like Jesus who did not grasp at equality with God, but rather emptied and humbled himself for the sake of self-sacrificing love.

To live like that, like Jesus, is what it means to work out our salvation –
to live as though we know that grace is real.
We work out our salvation together in the Church by being
a community of mercy and delight.

And thus we seek to be of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.
We seek to do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than ourselves.
We seek look not to our own interests,
but to the interests of others.
We avoid murmuring and arguing,
so that you may be blameless and innocent.
To not live this way is to participate in
the crooked and perverse generation
            living contrary to the way of Jesus

Having received the mercy and delight of God’s grace in Jesus Christ,
we can work out our salvation
and shine like stars
in a world darkened by brokenness and division,
by meanness and violence,
by envy and enmity.

Let’s bear with one another and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2)

Let’s lead a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3)

Let’s bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven us, so we also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13)


Bearing with One Another

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