In this race for knowledge, have we lost the fine and hard-earned touch of a master craftsman? But if one does become a master at something how do they avoid being lumped together and pigeon-holed by the forgeries?
There is a dramatic, and yet sometimes subtle, difference between someone who is a master at their craft, and an apprentice hoping to sell themselves off as masters. These are the blowhards, the bluffers, and the fakes. They have an answer for everything yet reveal nothing. They bring fanfare, fireworks and forgery. The only way a to tell the difference is to practice yourself, find out for yourself and experiment. Then you can spot the forgery by their demonstration alone.
We have the same issues in Christianity. Christians have always looked to their leaders for a demonstration and for an example. Somehow Christians with bad marriages or alcohol problems etc. rise to leadership roles in the church and they become a demonstration of how NOT to do things. Oh sure, religion tries to restrict behavior and regulate the leaders until they can’t be people any more they have to be robots. Their children are usually the bitter teens acting out and trying to rebel against all the additional constraints even to the point of denying God and their roots. Wow! What kind of fruit is that? Something is wrong here because when someone “falls from grace” the outside world judges quickly and mercilessly. How can we avoid this trap?
Let’s look at today’s verse.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absences, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
I must have confused a whole bunch of you now. I can hear you say, “Terri, look, it says right there that we have to obedient little robots and look I have to do it with fear and trembling! Sheesh! How could I serve a God like that?”
I’m so glad you are willing to ask the tough questions with me. Keep in mind, I didn’t write the book. But I do have some insight here that, if you stick with me, you’ll find freeing and exciting. First, we know that God is love, not fear. We know obedience to God is a big deal. We’ve been reading in the context that we should think like Jesus Christ and he thought of himself as God’s child. Last week was a week of Biblical victories here on this blog. Today is no different! Let’s look at the literal translation of Phil. 2:12 according to Greek word usages.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have been obedient at all times, not only when I was present with you, but now even more when I am absent from you, work intensely to demonstrate your own wholeness with reverence and obedience [looking to God with stayed mind],” Phil. 2:12
Wow that changes the “fear and trembling” to “reverence and obedience.” The KJV says to “work out your own salvation” the literal says to “work intensely to demonstrate your own wholeness”. This is the subtle difference of how a master would work the Word of God compared to how a novice would work it. We have the commission to be workman of the Word.
Now, how do we keep our leaders from falling on their faces? How do we keep them from rising to the pinnacle of success in the church only to fall to temptation?
I heard an amazing quote that changed my perspective of true leadership forever.
“When a man is really walking with God, it is very difficult to find a pigeon hole to put him into.”
Religion pigeon-holes people. If you don’t believe, me look at the set up of a church. Does the choir director always get called “the choir director”? What about the pastor? If he cleans a toilet, don’t we say, “Yeah, I found Pastor Bob cleaning the men’s restrooms.” Why aren’t we all just God’s kids doing what needs to be done, when and where it needs to be done? Because the way any organization works is you must climb the ladder and fight for your position at the top. Something I’ve seen happen over and over in churches. (Some time I hope to do a course on the 5 gift ministries, pastors, evangelists, teachers, apostles and prophets and study from the Word how these functions are gifts to the church, not dictators of the church.) Religion is man-made. Men have brought their traditions and private interpretations to the Word of God and used it to keep large groups of people under control. Does that sound like a pigeon hole to you? How does that leave room for God to work in the janitor to preach or the choir director to serve as the janitor? Ok, now I have you fired up and mad at me. I think it’s time to go to the next verse. I’d like to keep it in context of today’s verse.
12) “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absences, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13) for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12
When will we allow God the freedom and flexibility to move like this? God gave each one of us the same measure of the same gift of Holy Spirit. We each have the responsibility to demonstrate our own wholeness in obedience to God not man.
Here is the literal in context.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have been obedient at all times, not only when I was present with you, but now even more when I am absent from you, work intensely to demonstrate your own wholeness with reverence and obedience [looking to God with stayed mind], for it is God Who energizes within you in order for you to desire and carry out that which is according to His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12-13
WOW!! Is that freeing? Is that exciting? A hundred times, YES!
God saved us from the wrath of an iron fisted dictator.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1
That is the yoke of man’s traditions and expectations. How can God rock your world when you’ve tied His hands and put Him in a box? How can you break loose and believe for all kinds of miracles when you refuse to learn from the Master Himself? How can He demonstrate His power when our believing, or lack thereof, locks Him inside a box of error promoted in the very systems of Man’s religion?
The greater the leader, the greater the servant. No one was a greater leader than Jesus Christ and who did he serve? God the Maker of the Universe. This is also our task. We, with reverence, obedience and a stayed mind recognize God energizing in us the desire to carry out that which is according to His good pleasure. No pigeon hole here. Just a mighty demonstration of God’s flexibility and powerful love.
God bless you today!