Formality is being lost in our culture. Just one generation ago, people wore suits to work – or at least a sports jacket, there were formal outlines for letter and memo writing, children were taught to call adults by their proper title, and respect was the name of the game. Now we value casual. Many offices are comfortable, hip and innovative, people want to delay aging and they refuse the title of miss and mister, and by our third email with a stranger we often times no longer even write the recipient’s name in the greeting, or sign off with our own. Emailing is more of a conversation than a letter. I worked for an advertising company a few years ago that had bought out a downtown bank, converted it to offices, had an open pet policy (the place was teeming with dogs!), had no dress code and for their Halloween week they had a costume contest, candy giveaways and even played beer pong in the front lobby.
While formality is a morally neutral aspect of our culture, we see in Scripture a bit of the cultural norms when it comes to letter writing, and some of my favorite passages of Scripture are in the greetings and doxologies. They offer prayers, encouragement, instruction, worship, and all varieties of depths for the reader. One of my favorites is the closing of Jude:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
– Jude 24-25
He, Jesus Christ, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is able to keep us from stumbling. He can make us stand blameless in the presence of the glory of God: the judge of the universe, who will condemn any and all sin to Hell for eternity. We have all sinned, we have all committed acts of which we are ashamed, but Jesus can cause us to stand in God’s presence blameless, and with great joy! This is not saying that we can live without sinning. We can not and will not attain perfection until we shed these earthly bodies.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
– 1 John 2.1-2
Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we can stand blameless before God. And when we mess up, He stands between us and God and says, “I already paid for that”, so that we can stay in His presence.
So our response to that wonderful reality? To Him “be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever”. When was the last time you stepped back and praised God for His glory? Majesty? His dominion and authority that He has exercised over all of creation for all time? He is the creator of life. He spoke and the world came into being! He is infinite! Praise Him for His greatness today, on the grand scheme and on the personal level. Remain in Him and let Him keep you from stumbling today. Stand in His glory and praise Him.