Friday, February 17, 2006

the enduring glory of God

Last Sunday night Bob talked passionately about the church being an intergenerational institution. It is a beautiful thing indeed when children worship next to parents and grandparents, when college students serve next to young couples. I had to resist the urge to push Bob out of the way and do the benediction for him (I'm really glad I didn't - the reading for Revelation was so powerful at the time). Now that I think about it, that would've been very odd. The reason is that Ephesians 3:20-21 came to mind in a powerful way. Hear what Paul says, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."...
This passage has long been one of my favorite doxologies. Paul says "to him be the glory". All glory is God's because he alone is worthy and created all things for his glory. There is no part of creation, no corner of the cosmos that does not sing of God’s glory – no part of it is not his, for he created every aspect, every electron and proton of suns and galaxies far away, and he created it all for his glory

But there is a special arena of God's glory - the church. Many people get glory for their accomplishments. To Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward be the glory on the football field. To Tom Hanks be the glory in the Academy of Motion Pictures. But to God, to God be the glory in the church! It is his special sphere of glory where he is willingly worshipped by his people.

But Paul doesn't stop there. He goes on, "to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus...". This is an important statement because it reminds us of a couple of important things. First, Christ is what makes the church what it is. He is the head, we are the body. He is the cornerstone, we are the building. He is the shepherd, we are the sheep. We are a people for God's glory because Jesus is for God's glory. That was the goal of his life, his ministry, and his death - to glorify God his Father.

The next phrase is truly incredible. "To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations." How long will you remember who won the Superbowl? Maybe a couple of years. How long will the hottest bands still be hot? Maybe a decade. Two if they are incredibly lucky and versatile. Most will wind up on VH1's "One Hit Wonders" or "Where are They Now" shows. How long will actors and actresses be celebrated for their work? Only as long as their beauty doesn't fade, which it will. Only God's glory is throughout all generations. Think about that for a minute. In every generation of people that have ever lived there have been faithful God worshippers - there has been a church. The number was incredibly small in some generations (i.e. Noah was the only one from his generation), but the truth holds - "TO GOD BE THE GLORY IN THE CHURCH AND IN CHRIST JESUS THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN".

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