doxology

by Elizabeth de Barros

doxology \däk-ˈsä-lə-jē\ n : a usually liturgical expression of praise to God.

Sounds a bit stiff.

With all due respect to the experts at Merriam-Webster, I think they ran out of ink on this one. The term “doxology” warrants a definition worth more than five staid words. Doxology defined could make for an impressive thesis statement. At the least, it could be something new to talk about at dinner.

Saving faith will ultimately lead to a doxology that surpasses the stale confines of liturgy. The sheer nature of doxology is one of exultation. If I were to define it, I’d keep to the original Greek and Hebrew, where the root “doxa” went from meaning opinion to glory. My first entry would read easy enough: glory opinion. A second, for the sake of clarity, would be: a spontaneous expression of highest praise offered to God while in a state of holy communion. Still stiff, but hopefully less so.

Oh, that my life were a constant doxology! 
Then I would see from atop the hill’s summit,
forever declaring His praiseworthy deeds for all to hear!
Worthy is He, for to God in His perfection there is no limit!

Amen.

But the mirror doesn’t lie. My life is made up of countless ordinary days full of mundane tasks where it feels more like doctrine than doxology. Dirty sinks and toilets get cleaned not because they are jobs I necessarily enjoy doing, but because it is right and good to have a reasonably clean home — and God sees — so I have joy while doing them. Doctrine verges on doxology while holding a sponge.

Can this be the abundant life I’m promised?

I’m convinced it is exactly as God would have it. Sanity is the result of living in reality and let’s face it, mountaintop experiences are rare. Do they happen? Yes, but more often than not, it’s the life lived down in the valley that gets the job done and bears true, lasting fruit. Even Jesus spent more time teaching in the temple than he did shining dazzling white before Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The Bible attests that sound doctrine evokes the highest praise to God.  After Paul had finished expounding on the mysteries of God’s Sovereign election in Romans 11, he let loose with his own “glory opinion” and penned this salute to God:

Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been His counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?”
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

To Him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (ESV)

Paul’s impassioned adherence to sound doctrine won him the joy and privilege of tasting the fresh “glory opinions” of God firsthand, far removed from the dry bread of liturgy. To understand and obey God is the basis and necessity of all sound doctrine, but to love God and be intimately acquainted with His ways is the fount of all honest doxology. They go hand in hand.

In the end, our lives will be the result of how much we’ve allowed God to hammer us as fine gold into the likeness of His Son. Fire’s heat mixed with the smithy’s blows have everything to do with being trained in sound doctrine. These elements must shape us, lest we be like the Athenians who worshiped at an altar of an unknown God. Truly, if His anointing is leading us into all truth, we’ll be walking in paths of righteousness, too. For Who is God apart from His Word?

Surrendering to the forge may make a heart malleable, but surrendering to the anvil will pound out a doxology where one cries “Glory!” because of Who it has seen in the flames.



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