When our intentions and actions are guided by spirituality—our belief in our interconnectedness and love—our everyday experiences can be spiritual practices. We can transform teaching, leading, and parenting into spiritual practices. Brené Brown
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. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:12-13)
Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:12-13 is layered. First he says to work out our salvation. Then he says God is working in us. So which is it, Paul? Who is the savior: God or me? Or are we in some kind of salvation-collaboration?
I love N.T. Wright’s heading in his commentary on Philippians: How Salvation is Worked Out. Thank you. I’d like to know!
Truth is, verse 12 is hard to understand. It’s not quite the principle of “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Salvation is God’s grace-based process from start to finish. But God wants us to work out for ourselves what this business of being saved means in practice. And I wonder if Paul is driving home the point that Paul himself is not responsible for the sanity of those whom he leads and influences. He is trying to get them/us to take responsibility for the day to day management of living into the saved-status God has lavishly supplied.
This maps nicely with the principle Brené Brown found in her research: Those who have learned to rise strong again and again view the rising strong process as a spiritual practice.
How does this align (or disconnect) with your view of spiritual practice? In what ways does it encourage you? In what ways does it challenge you?
I’ll start: I’m encouraged by the wisdom that says I need to DO something in order to experience transformation. This helps me know that I’m not crazy (entirely). When I’m loafing around expecting God’s goodness to make my life easy, I’m going to be disappointed. I’m also challenged. If I’m responsible for partnering with God in the transformative process, I’ve got some work to do– every day, in every setting.
What say you??
LORD God, give me spiritual eyes to see, and spiritual ears to hear, what the Spirit is directing me into– every day.