Philippians 2:12-18;Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14; Luke 14:25-33
31st Week in Ordinary Time
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
Talk about mixed messages! Isn’t this the same Paul who, in the very same letter, confidently told the Philippians, “the one who began a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6)? Doesn’t today’s reading contradict that message, as if we might be in danger at any moment of losing our place in heaven? Should we be worried, or not?
It’s important to understand that there is an essential difference between the kind of fear that we feel as fragile, fallible human beings and the awe and anticipation that we feel as we contemplate the salvation that Jesus has won for us. The Bible refers to both as “fear,” but one cripples us with doubt, while the other energizes us to live in confidence and joyful hope.
Imagine your life in Christ as a strong, sturdy foundation—as though you were standing on a wide rock in the middle of the ocean. Jesus has already redeemed you, so you don’t have to earn your place on that rock! In fact, you couldn’t earn it, even if you wanted to. The cross is the only thing powerful enough to bring about your redemption, and Jesus has already offered himself on it. So if you feel anxious that you are undeserving of his love or that you haven’t done enough, don’t worry. God isn’t interested in what you haven’t done. He only wants to know what you will do now that he has redeemed you!
The “fear and trembling” that Paul speaks of is not the quivering of a mouse hiding from a cat! It’s the readiness of an athlete waiting for the starting gun. God wants his great gift of redemption to impel you every day, to move you into the world with the great good news of his love.
So imitate Paul. Move beyond your imperfections, and press forward with the goal of building the kingdom. “Work out” your salvation every day by letting the joy of your salvation work its way out of your heart and into the world.
“Lord, I am in awe that you have rescued me from sin and welcomed me into your kingdom. Fill me with zeal for your ways. Show me how I can honor you as I give my life to you!”~WAU