Thursday, September 17, 2009

Human Intentionality & Divine Initiative

Yesterday, as I was reflecting on Paul's journey to Macedonia and what later became the establishment of the church in Philippi.

As I was reading, I was struck by an interesting reality to Paul's journey and the events that surrounded the church at Philippi's conception.

Luke's account of Paul's journey
in Acts 16 is filled with an interactive exchange that seems to be indicative of God's intention for all of our lives. Pay close attention to the intentionality of Paul and the initiative of God's Spirit present in the following passage.

Acts 16:6-10

“6-Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7-When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8-So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9-During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10-After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:6-10 TNIV)

The back-story
of the church at Philippi is filled with this interactive exchange between of human intentionality and divine initiative.

“human intentionality” and “divine initiative”

Even the Letter of Philippians itself is filled with this reality.

Here's a couple of the verses where this is present in Paul's letter.
"For I know that through your prayers (human intentionality) and the help given by the Spirit (divine initiative) of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." ~1:19

"Continue to work out your salvation (human intentionality) with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you (divine initiative) to will and to act according to his good purpose." ~2:12-13

"Do not be anxious (human intentionality) about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests (human intentionality) to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds (divine initiative) in Christ Jesus. ~4:6-7

Embedded in the subplot of this Letter is the simple truth: This life was intended to be lived with-God. We have a part, God has a part, and true biblical spirituality is the interactive exchange of both of those. Our response in faith to the Spirit and the Spirit's response to our faith.

Paul's ambition, it seems, is that we continuously grow in our awareness of God's present nearness and involvement in our daily lives. The Book of Philippians, in part, in simply about discovering God in the midst of life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Paul's ambition, it seems, is that we continuously grow in our awareness of God's present nearness and involvement in our daily lives."

I found a similar idea when I was studying Mark 11 a week or so ago. I think it's pretty cool.