If any of you have ever read Velvet Elvis, you would know that there is this section in the very beginning where Rob Bell, in my own words, says that we should be willing to test the doctrines we have deemed as important. We should be willing to discuss them and test them. We are never in a position to throw them away. He likens doctrines to the springs that hold a trampoline pad to the frame. You can test the springs by jumping on it, but you cannot remove the springs. If you were to do that, the pad – your religion – would fall to the ground, because it has no support or structure. The only reason I mention this aspect of “Trampoline Theology” concerns the very reason we are doing this study. As we read these verses, I encourage you to challenge the Scriptures. Test them. Invite others to jump with you on the trampoline and jump away.
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the mist of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
God somehow works in us
God has a will
The result of God’s working in us produces pleasure
We are to do things with out grumbling or questioning
We are to be a blameless, innocent child – unlike the twisted generation of the world
We shine among the world because of who we are.
When I think about work, I think abut sweating. I think about doing a task that has a beginning and an end. When I begin the task, there seems to be a lot to do. When it is all done though, I can stand back and see what I have accomplished. I can take pride in my work, because I spent the time and effort to complete the task at hand. It could have been something simple like cleaning my room or something more difficult like doing a tune-up on a car. It doesn’t matter what the task is. This is how I picture it.
God has a task in us, or so it seems that way. Somehow God works in us. I don’t know how that happens. I don’t feel God “working” in me I don’t feel God doing much in me at all, if I am totally honest. I don’t get little tingly sparks when I read the Bible or have grand epiphanies. I am who I am. Have there been significant changes in my life? Absolutely! What I am getting at though is that it happens in ways I cannot explain or “feel.” It seems to happen in very small ways, yet ends up being significant when I lest expect it.
The crazy thing about this, as Paul states, is that God isn’t doing this work for us, but for Himself. This work isn’t so we can be prideful in what “we” have done, but is done because God takes pleasure in us and desires to use us for His will. So He works in us somehow. I don’t know how to explain it, but He does. If anyone actually understands how God “works in us,” let me know, because I think it is something we are not meant to understand.
I like to complain a lot. I am sure I am not alone in that either. I complain about my joy, my finances, my car, my relationship status, and several other things in my life. The problem is, when I complain, I usually bring other people into the equation. Instead of seeing a person who loves life and is encouraged by God, they see a complaining idiot. How on earth are they supposed to get excited about God or the Gospel when I am giving such a bad example for them to see? That is something I have to work on a lot.
We are called to be lights in this world. We shine and the darkness cannot overcome us. We are to shine brightly for Christ in every aspect of our lives, because He has spent His sovereign time working on us for His good pleasure. So let us attempt to do things without complaining and present ourselves as perfect, clean, unblemished sacrifices for the work of Christ. When we do that, we will surely shine and the world will come to see the truth of the Gospel and want to know why we are so different from the darkness. Test it. Probe it. Give it a try. Allow God to show you it is trustworthy and invite others to jump along with you.