“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, WORK OUR YOUR SAVATION with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Phil 2:12-13.
* No question, our salvation comes from God alone. We cannot produce anything that will lift us from our broken condition to perfect life in Paradise. That is all God’s doing when He graciously sent His Son into this world to provide us with that opportunity. But that also means two things: 1. We are to completely enjoy the wonderful grace of God at all times recognizing that we have a wonderful loving God; 2. We allow the salvation planted in us to grow into an abundance of fruits – or as the Bible verse above says – we work out our salvation.
* How do we do that? We meditate on God’s Word; we pray; we ask the Holy Spirit to move us to action as He helps us to do the works that edify Christ’s Church and help bring people to Him. Oh, I almost forgot, we also participate in a Christian Church whenever the opportunity presents itself, not just when I have nothing else to do. I could mention more ways to work out our salvation… the faith that has been planted in our lives, but I believe we all got the idea.
* I have often heard people say something along the line of “the church is filled with hypocrites!” or… “I feel like a hypocrite every time I go to church because I fail to live for Christ so often.”
* Well, consider the following… When you enter a car dealership what do you see first? The showroom… brand new shiny cars, but there, behind the showroom is the parts counter… and the service department. What needs to happen when your car is not working right… when it is not firing on all cylinders? We all know what needs to be done – YOU TAKE IT TO THE EXPERT TO FIX IT – to the service department. That is where you take it! Would it be wise to NOT TAKE THE CAR TO THE SERVICE DEPARMENT when it is running rough? NO! It would be foolish to continue to drive and ignore the problem. It will only fall apart more and more.
* So now let’s digress and establish a parallel… Instead of thinking of church as a showroom where everything is perfect, start thinking of it as God’s garage… God’s service department! That is where God, with His Word and Sacrament, helps people to be back in running condition. Yes, there are sometimes when a complete overhaul needs to take place, but God can do it, and will do it if we submit to His will and let His loving hands get into our lives and fix the areas that are broken… That is what the church is all about.
* I also want you to be clear, my friends, about the fact that no one in the church is perfect. (Don’t expect the pastor to be perfect either by the way…) We all have areas that need growth… Nobody has already reached the full measure of the stature of Christ as Paul says in Ephesians 4… We all need to continue to work towards that goal.
* A group of tourists visiting a charming little village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a demeaning way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.” Every person who is a believer starts life as a baby in Christ. Whether the new convert is six or sixty, that person is still a new Christian and needs to grow in the Lord. We all need to grow… but I have to admit, if a person that has called himself/herself a Christian for fifty years but is still a “spiritual baby”… that is a tragedy. God intends for us to grow and mature so that we can be a positive influence in the lives of others in the church, and in our community. Until we learn to dig into the meat of the Word for ourselves, we will never grow.
* It does not matter… how young or old you are, THE CHURCH IS FOR YOU! There, you will have an encounter with the Savior and He will give you the Holy Spirit with the tools to WORK ON YOUR SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING FOR IT IS GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU…
* Pablo Casals was considered the greatest cellist to ever live. When he was 95 years old he was asked why he continued to practice 6 hours a day. He answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” Are you making progress? COME TO CHURCH! “… You MUST grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18.
* Have a blessed month of June! Rev. Don Sonntag