Our pastor is challenging us this year to memorize scripture. I'm glad, because I used to memorize quite a bit of it, and I've gotten a little lazy in my old age. I should have been done with Colossians 3 by now, but I'm only about a third of the way through it.
Last week he assigned Philippians 1:6: "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." It was good to ponder this encouraging truth again. The "he", of course, is God, the one who made us and is still in the process of conforming His followers to the image of His Son.
One thing I hadn't focused on much before was the fact that Paul's letter is addressed to the CHURCH at Philippi, not to an individual. Just as God pursues individuals to bring us into relationship with him, He also establishes the church in various locales and among various groups of people, and these living entities are also growing at his initiative and by his power. This is great news for the body of Christ wherever it dwells, because we need to be reminded that this sometimes-too-human institution is never beyond God's redemptive capabilities.
As I considered once again how blissful it is to know that God will also complete the work He has begun in me personally, I was struck by the question of what kind of completion HE is after. I know that what I want for myself is perfection. You know, no more mistakes, no more talking faster than I can think and regretting it later, no more frustration with my limitations. But that picture sounds pretty similar to what the serpent offered Eve--independence from God. And it's true. I want to be able to get it all right on my own.
I really don't think my picture-perfect idea of completion matches God's very well. My reflection has led me to the idea that He is most concerned with completing the RELATIONSHIP that He initiated with us. He knows we are most fulfilled when we are most dependent on Him. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" echoes in my mind. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Lord, I trust that indeed, when you complete your work in your people, including me, the results will be glorious. The fulfillment of our relationships with you will be beyond our wildest imaginations. Help me to be less self-conscious, and more relationship-conscious.