“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12, ESV).
When Paul said, “Therefore,” that connects us with the previous passage of how every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” As followers of Christ, we have already bowed the knee in allegiance to Christ and have already confessed that He is our Master and Lord. Some of you may be here this morning singing the songs and hearing the Word, but you have never sworn your allegiance to Christ alone, confessing your sins and asking Christ to forgive your sins and to take them. When we say, Christ is Lord, we’re not just punching a ticket to heaven. We are surrendering, making a commitment. God has us and takes us and makes us into something.
Sanctification is being conformed to the image of Christ. Christianity is not just a good feeling or about attending an event once a week. We must realizing how significant this is. Os Guinness in his recent book called Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion spends a chapter dealing with the anatomy of unbelief. Guinness brings up a great point:
The Bible uses many strong terms to describe unbelief, including hardening, twisting, blindness, deafness, unnaturalness, lies, deception, lies, deception, folly, rebellion and madness, but none repays reflection more than Paul’s phrase in Romans. At the heart of sin disobedience, Paul says, is a flagrantly deliberate and continuing act of violence to truth.
Guinness faithfully shows us the God has to say about our nature. Outside of Christ, our aim is to suppress the truth either by ignoring the dilemma of our choice, or by distracting ourselves in looking elsewhere for truth.
And he makes a good point. Think of it like this: if you’ve been to a flower shop (and guys, I hope you have with it being Valentine’s Day), you may notice all sorts of vases, which are containers for the water and the flowers. But every container, if you put water or any pliable property in there, it takes the shape of that container.
We all walk around with those containers. Not literally, but in our hearts, minds, and will. And we expect everything around us to conform to the pattern of that container. You may have done it today. Instead of coming in ready for God to shape you, you’ve come in with your container wanting to shape everyone else. And if they don’t fit your mold, then something’s wrong. “Why did they pick that music—it doesn’t fit my container!” “Why did that prayer go so long? My container can only hold a 30 second prayer.” “Why wasn’t this or that said? My container wants this and that said.” And you’ve worked hard on that contained, but the problem is that container is not working for you!
In Romans 8:28-29, Paul writes,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Christ comes to shatter our container into bits, and giving us a new container to where we are conformed to His image–not others being conformed into ours. He is Lord, not us! We bow the knee to Him, not others to us!
What containers are you carrying to which you expect others to conform? Are you ready for Christ to shatter those containers so we will conform to Him? After all…
Jesus is enough!
Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 85.