Recovering the I-Thou Relationship

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. ~ Philippians 2:13

Paul is writing to the church at Philippi. In chapter 2 he quotes an ancient hymn of the church. The hymn is all about Jesus. His presence with God. His taking on the form of a servant in Bethlehem. His obedience to the cross. His exaltation and his eventual rule and reign over the universe. Notice how Paul opened this section of writing with the statement: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” He is challenging his readers to think and live like Jesus.

It is important to note the use of the term “therefore” as he continues the conversation in verse 12 and following. The word connects the two sections of writing. He is telling his readers about the obedience and humility of Jesus and now he is encouraging his reader to be obedient. Then Paul uses the phrase “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” It is interesting to note that the grammar of the verse (present middle imperative) could also be translated in this manner, “allow the outworking of your salvation be in awesome wonder for who God is and what Jesus has done for us.” It is God who is at work within us. He has a will and a plan of action for us, and it is good. That is a good reminder for us today.

I would simply note that we live in a time and in a setting that focuses on control. We live in a culture that can be very “me” focused. I feel that we need to recover the “I-thou” relationship instead of it’s all about me relationship. We are in this with Him and for Him. The mind of Christ should guide my thoughts. My actions. My conversations. My life. In Jesus name I ask for these things. Amen.