Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Day of Jesus Christ

As I mentioned last week, our devotions over the next few months will be based on the same text as our Sunday School lessons from the previous Sunday. This week our devotional text is Philippians 1:3-11. Give it a read before reading the devotion today. 


In the Western Church tradition (Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant) we are used to Church bells that are melodic and soothing. The bells ring out true and clear (or in the case of CPC, play a nice tune) to remind us that God is with us and all will be well. It is our prayer here at CPC Omak that our own church bells that ring out the hour and from time-to-time also ring out a hymn will both encourage and soothe the heart and mind of those who hear it with the comfort of Christ Jesus alone. (The video here is an example of Western church bell music).
Now there is another church bell tradition that is also worth our time to contemplate. In the Eastern Church tradition (churches that usually label themselves as 'Orthodox' in their denominational or congregational name) the bells do not melodically, but rather discordantly. [I ran across the video below and was impressed by the demonstration of how it is all done]. Indeed, one time I played a video of Eastern Church bell music in a Sunday School class and one the participants after class told me, "It sounds like the soundtrack to a horror movie."

The purpose of the Eastern Church bells, so far as I can figure it out, is to grab your attention and tell you that this world is not all there is. It shocks us with dissonant tones and yanks us out of the rhythm of life to remember that there is a God who has interrupted the course of human history, marked and marred by sin, to rescue and redeem us. Salvation is both comforting and soothing, but also shocking and intrusive. These two poles of our salvation in Christ Jesus are never more apparent than they will be on the day of Jesus Christ (mentioned in Philippians 1:6 and 1:10).
Paul's purpose in his prayer is to give thanks to God that the Philippians have remembered him in his suffering through imprisonment and have supported him financially in this trying time. The Apostle's confidence in Christ Jesus through his faith is so intense that he takes time in the midst of his suffering to remind the Philippians that God will complete the good work he began in the Philippians on the day of Christ Jesus. This work good work of God in the Philippians, and indeed all those who trust in Jesus, is salvation itself.
We tend to collapse salvation into conversion in the Protestant church, forgetting or, perhaps, ignoring, that Scripture actually speaks of salvation as work that God does in our lives as a process. For God, who is atemporal (i.e. outside of time, for he is the one who made time and to Him it is an object) salvation is an event. While I will not bore you with an entire ordo salutis (translated, order of salvation), suffice to say that our salvation begins with the electing work of God the Father in creation, is possible through the atoning work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, is actualized in the justifying (making right) work of God the Holy Spirit as Christ's atoning work on the cross is applied to us, continues in the sanctifying (making holy) work of God the Holy Spirit as Christ's atoning work is consistently applied to us (especially through the ordinary means of grace of the Word, prayer and sacraments) and will only be complete in glory as we are made new and whole on the day of Christ Jesus. For Biblical account of this, see Romans 8:28-30 or Titus 3:1-11.
The Apostle's claim is that God had begun the good work of salvation among the Philippians, and God would complete that good work on the day that Jesus Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. This good work of salvation in his own life had led him to regard his present suffering as serving a purpose, namely, to give glory and praise to God. As the Philippians joined him in suffering through sacrificial giving they too were giving glory and praise to God. Paul's prayer, then, is that they grow in their love, displayed in their gift to him, but that love will lead into knowledge and discernment that they may do the right thing in the world, no matter the cost and be found pure and blameless on the day of Christ Jesus.
This prayer leads us to see our salvation as both comforting and disquieting. We are comforted that God will complete the good work of salvation are already begun in us. We are disquieted by the change this brings to how we see and act in the world and how the world will react to us and our faith.
I think we need both the soothing Western bells and the discordant Eastern bells to remind us, from time-to-time, that our faith is both as well.

Shout Outs

This week I want to send just one shout out to our Fellowship Team that creates many opportunities for us to connect with another and encourage each other as we grow in our faith as disciples of Jesus Christ. The potluck this week was a fun theme and my daughter Sarah was especially impressed with singing 'Happy Trails.' Now if only I can get here to sing that instead of the soundtrack to Frozen.

News and Events

  • Session will meet this Sunday at 2 p.m. Please be in prayer for your Elders as they seek to lead us all to proclaim Christ through surrender, connection and service.
  • It is still not too late to join a Small Group. We are studying, "Experiencing God" this Fall. Information is available at the Welcome Center of the Church regarding Small Groups.
  • The Youth Group are selling fragrant, long-lasting candles to support our camp ministry. Be sure to get one of these great candles following worship Sunday and help send kids to camp this summer at the same time.

No comments:

Post a Comment