Going Deeper 12.17.2020

The second reading for Advent 2... Romans 16:25-27

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

Today's devotional comes from a commentary on this text by John Frederick, Lecturer in New Testament, Trinity College Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia:

The doxology of Romans 16:25-27, as well as the past sixteen chapters of the epistle center on the project of bringing all humanity to the obedience of faith in the Gospel in order to bring great glory to God.

In contemporary culture, the idea of God receiving glory might be interpreted as something that makes God seem needy, or even arrogant. Who is this God who constantly requires this sort of affirmation and recognition; indeed, this sort of glorification, and that from the entire world? When we think of human “glory-seeking” exemplars, many images come to mind. We think of the professional athlete, the successful business person, the model parent or child, the high school quarterback, and a host of other examples that are often accompanied by the glorious accolades of human crowds.

This sort of thinking frustrates in advance our concept of “glory,” poisoning its potency by eviscerating the infinite qualitative distinction between God and every other person and thing in existence. Instead of viewing God as the infinitely wise, eternally loving, totally transcendent Other who is approachable only through supernatural grace, we view God as a cosmic football quarterback, sitting on a velvet throne, thriving on the glorious praises that are shouted from his adoring fans across the universe. We think of God as a version of ourselves that just happens to be more grand, expansive, and impressive.

Yet, in order to understand the glory of God, and to understand how the preaching of the Gospel brings God glory, we must rid ourselves of the rot of the insufficient analogy of human glory applied to God, and instead repopulate the meaning of glory by situating it in reference to the character of God himself. First we must ask: why does the preaching of the Gospel and the obedience of faith bring God glory? God is not like the prideful church planter who likes to drop church growth stats over coffee meetings with colleagues as a source of pride. God is not like the mega church prosperity pastor who gets glory based on the number of sheep herded into the arena and the volume of “love offerings” made toward the purchase of his third private jet.

Rather, God’s glory is a direct result of the paradox of divine love. God is glorious, not because he is infinitely arrogant; but because he is infinitely humble. This is most profoundly expressed by the others-centered, self-giving love of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world. God’s glory, then, must be defined by the glory of his love, which is his very essence.

Serving with You to His Glory,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"