Something in minister's class blew my mind this week.
The instructor was providing exegete on the text of Romans 11, where the apostle Paul explains the inclusive nature of God's saving grace towards the Jew as well as the Gentile. Paul's statements were in response to the Gentiles' distain of the Jews' redemption, positioning him to paint a picture of what unmerited favor looks like...
Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. ~Romans 11:30-31, New International Version
Even swimming in the currents of disobedience, Christ extends his hand of grace for our salvation. I don't know why he loves us like he does but I'm sure glad he does.
As powerful as this text is standing on its own, what really got me was verses 33-36, a doxology.
A doxology is one of those religious demonstrations we may hear about but not fully grasp. Most of the time, doxologies are said in worship services right before the benediction so we may not even pay attention to it.... but we should.
Benedictions are blessings that are spoken over your life, health, etc... to instill godly protection upon you before you once again go out into the world. But a doxology is a moment set aside (at any time) to give special praise to God.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
~Romans 11:33-36 NIV
What stood out for me with this doxology is it had no benediction and/or dismissal immediately after. Unlike the modern church, the doxologies of the New Testament were more like praise breaks than closing songs. And being liturgical in nature, they were often sung. The idea that Paul would use high praise to the Most High God (infused with words of humility from Old Testament giants like Job, Isaiah, and Jeremiah), in the midst of a debate about who "deserves" salvation is powerful. His timely appreciation for the Sovereign God in the face of those trying to issue judgement is a perfect example of how gratitude can put God in perspective.
These last few days would have me questioning God about his decisions. I'm so grateful his Word gives me perspective. This is a paraphrase of this doxology from my perspective...
How wonderful is God's wisdom and knowledge, too deep for me to understand! How good it is that his choices are beyond my discovery so that all might benefit! I know not his mind nor can give counsel to his decisions. There is nothing I can give him, nor anything he has to repay. Everything is from him, through him, for him. Glory included. Period, the end.
Every debate, every crisis, every suffering, every celebration, every pain is an opportunity to see God from a new perspective. There is no scenario where the recognition of the Father's sovereignty in relation to the situation cannot settle the matter in our hearts.
Expressing our gratitude in context captures the heart of Christ. It says we believe him to be the God of Every Circumstance, and that we will gladly usher his glory in to every atmosphere.
Gratitude. It's giving God something he can feel. Next time drama comes to visit, or joy, or something else, offer up an "A" selection of gratitude.
These past few days, I've needed a song in my heart so I close with a little praise break from Fred Hammond...
You're the tone of power In the key of honor Filled with glory Lord you are my song For your endless mercy and your loving kindness pull my heart strings daily Lord you are my song
… and this benediction...
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:14
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