The Formula

1

May 9, 2019

Jude 24-25 (NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

CONSIDER THIS

One night during our bedtime routine one of my daughters said, “Daddy, sing the  Ology song.” “Did you say the theology song?” I replied. “No! The OLOGY song!”

After a bit of back and forth like this, I finally figured it out when she said, “The song when we give the money.”

She wanted the Doxology, the one we sing every Sunday in worship after the offering.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

A doxology is a hymn of praise to the Trinity. We sing this at our church as the offering of the congregation’s tithes and gifts are placed on the altar as a public recognition that emerying we have comes from God. And now it’s also what we sing at bedtime to end our day as a family. 

Doxology is rooted in the Greek word doxa which means “glory,” but also means “of the nature and acts of God.” 

So a doxology is about the “glory of God.” And the glory God is the character, nature, and revelation of God found in the relationship and actions between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As Jude wraps up his warnings about false teachings and his call to defend the faith, he doesn’t sign off in the usual way letters were finished back then. Instead, he offers a doxology:

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

This is far from a nice little bow to tie up his letter. This is the big finale, and it offers us a piece of a formula for defending the faith that JD Walt once taught me:

Theology – Doxology = Ideology

Let me break this down:

Theology is the study of God and religious doctrine. It’s what we learn and know about God. But doxology goes beyond knowledge to adoration. It is the acknowledgment of who God is because of a relationship. And you must have the two together. I can know everything about my wife, but if we don’t have a relationship of love and respect, then things don’t go well. 

So then if we have theology (what we know about God) without doxology (a relationship of love and respect with God) we end up with ideology: the opinions and ideas of individuals or groups. And ideologies can be slippery. Everyone has an opinion, and they can shift with changes in culture and experience. They can become a source of… wait for it… false teaching and the false self.  

Which leads us to another formula based on all we’ve seen in Jude:

false self + false teaching = false gods

And what is a false god? An idol. And idolatry is the worship and adoration of someone or something else as God. Idolatry puts each of us right back in the Garden of Eden, right next to Adam and Eve, putting our trust in something and someone else other than God. 

And that is, well… a formula for false. And it’s why Jude ends his theology letter with a doxology. Because as JD formulated:

Theology + Doxology = Reality

And that’s the truth.

THE PRAYER

Jesus, give me more and more mercy, peace, and love. That’s the formula for today, and that’s enough. Amen. 

THE QUESTION

What is your formula? 

For the awakening,
Omar Al-Rikabi

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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