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What’s Your Doxology?

Interesting Mottos or Doxologies

“Never expect. Never assume. Never ask. And never demand. Just let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.”

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do”

“Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”

“Work. Buy. Consume. Die.”

“You Only Live Once” or YOLO

Essentially, these are the world’s doxologies. This is what they are ascribing glory and purpose to. It is usually self-glorifying and has little or nothing to do with worshipping the One True God.

What is a doxology anyway?

The word literally means “Glory Saying”. Traditionally it’s been viewed as a statement of glory being ascribed to the God of the Bible. But really, in a functional sense, it’s anything we ascribe glory to.

All Christians must have a CHRIST-CENTERED DOXOLOGY. In everything we do, whether in times of suffering or gladness, be strengthened by the gospel, and life’s ultimate purpose; to glorify God.

We must rejoice in the victory won for us in Christ through the strengthening of the Gospel. We are made right with God through the sacrificial death of Christ in our place, and raised to life again for our promise.

THE 2 WAYS TO HAVE A CHRIST-CENTERED DOXOLOGY

1) To acknowledge that salvation, strength and hope is a gift from God

Paul’s doxology in the end Romans Chapter 16 is one that encapsulates everything He has tried to explain to us in the beautiful book of Romans. The diagnoses of sin, deliverance from it, and the reality of living out the Christian life is on Paul’s mind as he writes this. To the immediate read, one might conclude it to be quite anti-climactic compared to the rest of the letter. To the contrary, this ending is quite fitting.

Romans 16:25-27

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

2) Joyfully glorifying God as the ultimate purpose.

No one will remember you 70 years from now. This whole idea of legacy of you is a farce. When we move on in however long the Lord has penned for us, the things we do for the most part, will be forgotten. The one and only thing we can contribute is to be involved in this great story of God where we join with Him in spreading the fame of Christ to the ends of the earth, and by God’s grace make an impact for the kingdom.

Here is a taste of what secularists and others think of life.

“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’– but none exists” ~Stephen Jay Gould / LIFE Magazine / What Is The Meaning of Life

Essentially what they are saying is that there is no meaning outside of your own belief and will.

It’s ultimately irrational, because what is a purpose without a purpose? A purpose that is worth dying for should have a purpose or it is ultimately meaningless. Sure, you can like collecting cars and love feeding the poor, but why?

It’s like asking someone why they work out…. “well to be healthy”… okay why be healthy? “So I can do well at farming cause I love working the land”. Okay, why work the land? To help feed people in my community”. Okay great, why is feeding people a great purpose? “So people can live”. Then what is the meaning of life?

As for the Christian. We have a beautiful doxology. The Gospel.

When you have an awful hour, day, week, month, year… you can point to your purpose which has a purpose. Jesus.

When your life is filled with pain, negativity and death you can say…

“I know Christ suffered in my place, I know that He rose from the dead and defeated death and He is coming again. I know that death has no sting and I know that life only gets better because the only thing this world can throw at me is seeming death and there will be a new heaven and new earth where I serve Jesus for eternity in worship.”

It’s rational and He carries us through suffering and He is everlasting truth.

The Greek’s were intrigued to this idea of ‘truth’, or some sort of principle of order and knowledge that one can attach themselves to. A sense of purpose that had order, meaning and a foundation to it. They would consider this term ‘logos’ when trying to reason out the things of life together.

John, the writer of one of the gospels was keen to  understand his audience being that the book was written in Greek.

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5 Parenthesis added to show original language of ‘Word’

Truth, meaning, order and purpose is not an idea or an abstraction, IT’S A PERSON! Jesus.

There are other doxologies in scripture. Peter’s Doxology, John the revelator’s Doxology, Paul’s Ephesian Doxology and Jude’s Doxology.

MY INFORMAL DOXOLOGY

Okay, really… what is my current doxology? What does my story so far say? What does Stephen’s Christ-centered doxology sound like?

Father. I know that I am a wreck, that without you, there is nothing that pleases you. Left to my own devices I would certainly destroy myself by waddling in my sin of lust, power, greed and ultimately making life all about me. How grateful I am to know that life is not all about me, but about you. That ends and means don’t point to me, but to you. That when you look at me, you don’t see my filthy self-righteousness but you see Your Son and perfection He’s put on me like a refreshing waterfall on my dry parched body. Praise to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost for my beautiful wife and family; my brothers and sisters in Christ that you have so faithfully wrapped around me to help me understand I am not alone. Let everything that has breath praise You. Amen.

What is Your Doxology?

Write out your doxology. See to it that God receives all the glory in it.

Ethical Christian Unity

I was just a little guy at the time but what I do remember at such a young age were the anxieties and unknowns of walking into a church for the first time. My parents were wonderful people. Although the surface level we may have appeared to be disheveled and not as put together as those around us, my parents really loved Jesus and knew who they were in Christ.

With that being said ,one of the most impressionable aspects of Christ’s church happened to me at a very young age; feeling accepted into the family of God. This act of love, devotion and acceptance has shown me what church family can be.

The Church should exemplify love and acceptance like this,  to be so in step with the Spirit that we are a place where walls are torn down and reconciliation is made. I believe with a deep conviction that a thorough understanding of the gospel produces actions of real love.

If you’ve been at a church for any amount of time, there are things that divide us, in regards to Christian living and ethic, that don’t really matter in light of eternity. I hope that through the power of the gospel we can understand that Christian unity is the greater good when it comes to open-handed or non-essential issues regarding Christian living, practice and ethic.

WHAT TO UNDERSTAND

Stop judging people where you have no place to judge, and accept each other as Christians in open-handed issues of Christian living and ethic, and do everything to the glory of God.

Romans 14:1-12

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

WHAT IS IT SAYING?

Paul’s desire is for the strong and weak in faith to set aside secondary issues for the greater good of Christian unity.

  • The Weak: Those used to laws and are often subject to moralistic purity that is sincere which includes a lack of awareness of the full implications of Gospel living
    • Paul’s unifying plea to the weak is to not judge the strong and not judge what only God can judge.
  • The Strong: Those understanding the Christian liberty in Christ.
    • Paul’s unifying plea to the strong is to not despise the weak and not exercise such liberties for the sake of love for one another.

HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO US?

This chapter is speak of things that a local body needs to work out. This is NOT speaking of denominational doctrinal distinctive. This is talking about you and me disagreeing about petty things and how we must dish out grace to one another for the sake of Christian unity!

STRONG OR WEAK?

Out of the two personalities in regard to Christian ethic, which one are you?

1) The Strong

You accuse the non-intellectual, or the less theologically informed, for not understanding the ‘liberties of a Christian’.

What you say…

  • Those people will understand once they are educated
  • Everyone who disagrees with me is always wrong when is come to my way of Christian practice and ethic
  • I don’t care what they think, I know what I can handle
  • people need to ease up a bit

Have you considered those you offend? Do you rejoice in your freedom as worship to God? Or do you choose to be haughty and gloat in your freedom? If one grew up in the south and has a conscience, right nor wrong, about the use of alcohol, do you drink in front of them? I sure hope not.You never know if the one thing that is against someone’s conscience may cause them to be put in a place of destitution.  Everything you say and do should be to honor the weak.

The kingdom work of Christ includes those you disagree with as being ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘legalistic’. God has them in your life and in your local body to be in your family. The deep things of God include those you disagree with as far as our lifestyles go. Don’t be a reverse Pharisee by thinking too highly of yourself and not considering others in love. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Allow the ethos of your relationship with Christ to drive your ethical practice with those around you. When I use the word ethos, what I mean is just that. It’s the very character of the value system that fuels your ethics or how you interact with others. You shouldn’t define yourself ever by what you can DO, but by who YOU SERVE. You serve Christ and love His church. The gospel of grace should incline you to restrict yourself for the sake of others occasionally

2) The Weak

You judge those around for not ‘taking extra’ precaution to live righteously.

You judge on (but not limited to):

  • Economic Political Views
  • Cultural views on work ethic
  • Structure of home life
  • Homeschool vs public school
  • The consumption of Alcohol
  • Music styles
  • Healthy food
  • Income levels
  • Dress code
  • etc…

God is asking you to receive whom he has already received. Why do you continue to question the motives of others, when those motives may not even exist? Do you trust in Christ? Paul would take this a step further by asking, ‘who do you think you are?’ Don’t you know these are your brothers and sister falling under the same banner of grace as you? No one has to prove jack to you, only to the Lord. God is the final judge. Whatever you choose to do, do it to glorify Christ, not yourself. And don’t pass judgment on others who do not live as strict as you, hopefully you do it to worship Christ. If you see the gospel, you must see freedom, and if you see and know the gospel, you must see those you disagree with as being part of your faith family. The implications of the gospel require you to be sharpened by those you disagree with. There is a reason why Paul clarifies his leanings personally by calling ‘the Strong’ as being stronger in faith because it is not in itself sinful to act out our freedom in Christ.

Don’t be a Pharisee. You can’t define yourself by what you’re against.

THE REMEDY FOR DISUNITY? THE GOSPEL.

The point is this in verse 9 Paul directs the readers’ attention to the Gospel truth of reconciliation…

“For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”

We need to run to the gospel of Christ every time. Not some of the time, but all the time. How do you view the person across from you? How do you view each other as we sit across from each other in these rooms as we break into small groups? I pray that we view each other with gospel lenses and the mercy of God. Nothing more, nothing less.

We must believe that the cross of Christ and His resurrection has changed things. What He did for us has changed how look at our neighbors in Christ. What Paul said in chapter 12 about the renewing of our minds, this is where it takes place by the powerful work of The Spirit.

The Weak, whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. If you don’t drink, don’t drink to make yourself appear more religious, rather do it because you choose to worship Jesus with your abstinence, but don’t call another sinful because they have a glass of wine with their steak.

The Strong, whatever you do, do to the glory of God. If you like to drink wine with your steak, do it, but not around your brother that is convinced it’s sinful.

Ephesians 2:13-16

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

God’s Glory. My Joy.

Today is a good day. It is honestly hard to say that, knowing so many people around us are experiencing pain and suffering everyday, and I want to be sensitive to that fact. With that being said, this morning, I was filled with an indescribable joy spending time with my family and especially celebrating my daughter River’s third birthday. As Brittany and I woke up we could smell the morning dew seeping through our open window and our kids came in the room to crash our peace with laughter. Most days, waking up to chaos and demands is incredibly annoying, but today, we welcomed it.

Last month, our family took part in our close friends’ beautiful wedding in Denver. The scenery in Washington Park was truly gorgeous. My wife was doing the photography, I was officiating the wedding, and our kids were in the ceremony themselves. After the ceremony, everyone was ecstatic as our friends had just made life long commitments to each other. The moment was so perfect.

The reception was held on a boathouse facing a lake that had no guardrails, which for a parent is terrifying. Every chance I got, I would let the kids know to not get close to the water or they ‘would drown and not come back’. During the exact same moment of excitement, post-ceremony as the couple was signing their license, Brittany asks me, “Where is River?” Of course my guy response is, “I thought she was next to you?”.

The next 60 seconds felt like the longest minute of my life. The feeling of desperation and fear filled my heart. The entire wedding party stopped what they were doing and helped us look for her. She could not be found. I remember calling her name out and running to the lake to see if there were any sustained ripples from a previous fall. I was ready to ditch my camera and pride and jump in the lake even though I didn’t see any ripples in the water. Next thing I know, Brittany calls, “I found her upstairs!” River was in the boathouse stealing corn chips from random strangers’ tables. The whole wedding party felt a sigh of relief with us.

This morning, I got to kiss and take pictures of my baby princess River. I am not guaranteed everyday with my family, but I did enjoy this morning,… I had this morning.

There is a very present existential eternality to joy that only Christians get to experience, I am sure of it. Not to say that unbelievers can’t experience joy right now by having an amazing marriage or treasuring priceless moments, that’s ridiculous! But there is a sense of gratitude toward Yahweh when you know you don’t deserve moments, yet you are graciously given them to revel in! And all of these moments whether they are experienced or promised, will be consummated when Christ comes back and all things will be made new and death-defeated will be physically realized!

When you study theology, you think about this stuff all the time, but it does not always hit close to home until you meditate on the fact that God presents gifts to us because He is a good Father, and at times, wants His kids to experience happiness in the midst of joy.

Take a moment and think about the narrative of the garden in Genesis Chapter 2…

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)

First the LORD commanded Adam to ‘eat of every tree‘… it seems to be an initial command of enjoyment first. A call to virtuous bliss of all the things God set before them! AFTER THAT the perversion of God’s intention was retold by the serpent to Adam and Eve that God was hiding the pathway to god-hood. What a lie! God wants us to enjoy Him and His gifts.

I praise Jesus for this morning. Thank you Jesus for my family. Thank you Jesus for River. What can you thank Jesus for today?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

In Community For Jesus

Have you ever seen ants work? I know it sounds ridiculous to start a lesson with that, but really, have you ever looked at ants and how work together? They work so well with each other, even without a leader, and yet they get things done, and they get them done together. The Bible actually mentions ants in Proverbs 6:6 and in 30:25. If you look real hard, they are carrying food, protecting their land, and even carrying their wounded off to safety. We try and do everything on our own without anyone’s help and along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve brought some good to the world by being independent. And the truth is, we actually need each other.

Living in Community

In Acts 20:17-38 ESV we read about Paul’s probable final meeting with the Ephesians elders. This meeting was very full of teaching the Gospel, warning and storytelling, In the final few verses it says this,

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Within this time of Christian community we see so much life, teaching, and love on the part of everyone. I know for most of us as people, we desire this. I love this is quote by Bill Clem, “A community of believers following Jesus can image God in ways that an individual simply cannot.”1 If you really pay attention to any book of the bible, most of them are full of commands and graces that are meant for listeners that in a community context rather than an individual. This word community has been distorted over the years and will probably conjure up ideas of communism or exclusive types of cults. This is not the case, God has a plan for us to work and image Him together. We must get out of our lone-ranger mentality of life and ministry.

There are marks of a Christian community worth mentioning, so that imitations can be easily pinpointed. First, a Christian community worships. This means that a Christian community loves truth, prayer and enjoys eating together. Second, there is belonging that cannot be found anywhere else in the world because there people that forgiven by Jesus, so they forgive. A beautiful picture of belonging is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet in John 13; we see the perfect example of servant leadership and refreshing friendship. And third, we image God together on mission as a witness.2 When we love the world together, more can happen then what we could ever do on our own. The real question begins to be, are you a consumer? Or are you a giver?

Common distortions when it comes to community are often caused by sin. Sometimes, difficulties in community can also stem from various ways in which certain members have experienced generous, fun or unbiblical fellowship. Four common distortions3 an slowly sneak their way into a community; therapeutic, business network, programmatic, and exclusive. I think we have all been there, therapy looks like an accountability group, networks are business meetings, programs are boring, and exclusive groups are creepy. “Community distortions prevent us from experiencing and expressing the salvation Jesus died to provide.”4

Memorize This Scripture

Mark 9:50 (ESV)

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Personal Reflections

  • Read Acts 2:42-47
    • How would it look for our church for these descriptions to be true in our setting?
    • Does this excite you? Why?
    • Does this concern you? Why?
  • What type of distortion do you see you most prone to be involved with; therapy, network, program, or exclusive?
  • Take time now and plan to go to dinner or lunch with a group and find ways to integrate each other into the rhythms of everyday life. This might seem uncomfortable, but you all are mature adults, make it happen.

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • For a lot of people, the use of imagination sounds secular, though it can be secular, it doesn’t have to be. The imagination can be used5 to the glory of God when fenced in by scripture, God gave us our imagination. Spend time in prayer and worship imagining in your mind the beauty of God and joining with other faithful followers in worshiping Him. Imagine what it can look like to be faithful Christians together, and mirroring the church as described in Acts chapter 2.

Personal Study

  • Are you currently in community with other Christians, besides scheduled gatherings like Sundays or required meetings?
  • Read the beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5.
    • Could these teachings be applied to both an individual and in plurality? If so, why?
    • Look at the beatitudes, and make note in your journal how each can be applied in your personal and community life.
  • Study the scriptures laid out in table below, and evaluate if your life is bearing such fruit in your local community.6

 

Biblical Community
'One-Anothers' SCRIPTURE
Care 1 Corinthians 12:25
Forgive Colossians 3:13
Be Kind Ephesians 4:32
Submit Ephesians 5:21
Be Honest Colossians 3:9
Love John 13:35
Peace 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Hospitality 1 Peter 4:9
Serve Galatians 5:13
Instruct Romans 15:14

Action Points

  • While considering your family first, go out of your comfort zone and invite a family in your neighborhood to dinner inside your home, or out to a restaurant if you feel safer with that. I know, big step, but you’ll be surprised what doors can open when steps of kindness are pursued in the Name of Jesus.

Footnotes

COVER PHOTO Photo © Eko Adiyanto

Source: 1x


  1. Clem, Disciple, 123. 

  2. Ibid., 130. 

  3. Ibid., 141. 

  4. Ibid., 150. 

  5. Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul, 148. 

  6. Clem, Disciple, 136.