“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (other translations: with awe and reverence) Philippians 2:12
Church is a repository of people like me, shards of the rock of the “old time religion”. While our behaviors resemble family members who dutifully darken the doors of their traditional churches, there is a difference. A big difference.
We arrived at this church doorstep as spiritual orphans. We’d tried everything. We read ourselves silly. We sampled churches and theologies and tried in vain to fit in. Like Goldilocks in the folk tale, religious resting places were too hard or too soft. Those that seemed ‘just right’ belonged to someone else and we left feeling like trespassers. During these spiritual explorations, we were inevitably accused of “pagan tendencies”. We bristled and replied, “all things speak of God” and were then labeled “pantheists”. We have long been threats to the family spiritual status quo.
We are simply not inclined toward wearing blinders or employing the defense mechanisms others use to protect them from taking in anything that does not jive with what they have believed since their halcyon Sunday School days. At least, we remind ourselves, we are still actively searching.
So, with fear and trembling, we search for… well, what? We search for salvation, whatever that might mean. We are confused, but humble. We beg, “Could someone please define salvation without spouting the same old dogma!”
We have persevered while those with less courage, who crave “Givens” and solid pat “Answers” (with capital G’s and capital A’s) possess the very sort of salvations they have built, primarily constructed of other peoples’ building materials and with hired and (often unskilled) labor. They have saved themselves from fear and trembling and built predictable fortresses. We have not. Ambiguity is not a dirty word.
Perhaps the reason salvation is so difficult to define is hinted at in the scripture, “work out your own salvation”. Maybe we have to come up with our own definitions of salvation tailor-made for each of those of us who consider ourselves detritus from the old fashioned rock of ages. That is what makes us different.