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. (Phil. 2:12-13)
To live out the basics on life in Christ in team building, we must pull on the power of God. Let’s look at some of the phrases in these two verses for a better understanding.
Aligning with Christ in Team Building Takes an Ongoing Effort
We need to begin with what it means to “work out your salvation” to clear up any misunderstanding.
First, notice that it says to “work out” not “work for” your salvation. The “dear friends” (agapetos – beloved) Paul wrote to were already believers.
Second, the Greek word for “work out” (katergazomai) can relate to performance but also “to fashion i.e. render one fit for a thing” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). We work (ergazomai) according to (kata) our salvation. That’s aligning with who we are in Christ already described in verses 1-11.
The phrase “continue to work out your salvation” must be understood in the context of prior verses. Aligning with Christ, having “the same mindset as Christ Jesus” of humility, servanthood, and obedience to the Father … all essential to team building, isn’t a once and done effort. We must continue to be vigilant in functioning this way as a team.
Consequently, this kind of team building goes beyond following the latest church fad or giving the appearance or allusion of teamwork. We are who we are, together in Christ, whether others see what we do or not. — “as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue …” (Phil. 2:12).
Team Building in Alignment with Christ Takes God’s Power
We must not stop at verse 12, thinking alignment with the basics of who we are in Christ will happen through our own will power and efforts “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (v. 13). Our good intentions as leaders aren’t enough. With all that can go wrong in working with a diverse group of people, we need more than own feeble human attempts to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind” (Phil. 1:2). How easily we can lapse back into “selfish ambition or vain conceit” rather than the humility and selflessness of Christ.
Maintaining the mindset, or attitude, of Christ goes beyond external conformity to internal transformation. We are “transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). The original language of that verse reads that we are transformed into His image “from glory to glory” which can be explained by looking in the context. The first glory undoubtedly relates to the glory of the law (due to reference to Moses and the Old Covenant) and the second glory to life in Christ. To move from mere external conformity to true Christ-likeness from the inside out “comes from the Lord” not through our own striving.
Pulling on God’s Power to be a Team Takes a Wholehearted Trust
When we grasp the need for and the impact of the power of God at work in us, we’ll take all of this quite seriously … with the “fear and trembling” of Philippians 2:12. To think we can do this on our own is absurd. With such a reverential awe of God’s power, we will not take for granted what we have in Christ. We will not haphazardly or halfheartedly live in accordance with our salvation. We will not align with Christ only when it’s convenient or comfortable for us.
The fear of what we’ll miss out on due what the power of God can produce in and through us, overrides the sacrifices we might need to make. We’ll trust God for the big picture even as Christ “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death” knowing that God then exalted Him (Phil. 2:8-11).