Part 4 – (Re)formation – Ordering Our Lives for Spiritual Growth
Our hearts and desires are like homing beacons implanted in our physical bodies. But they are tuned to certain frequencies, and then set loose to go to the “home” that they are calibrated for. So what you love and what you desire will both consciously and unconsciously pull you in a certain direction. But our hearts and desires or our internal transmitters are often calibrated through Liturgies.
Liturgy is a word that simply means “Ritual”, practice, or “ways of doing things”. Liturgy is shorthand for rituals that are telling us a story about who we are and what we are here for.
Although Liturgy is often associated with Church, and Christianity, there are all sorts of (what we will call) rival liturgies in our lives.
As Christians living in a world not yet renewed, we need to have this Liturgical Lens on, being able to read what is training us, what is leading us, and where we are going. Meaning we need to be like the men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32
“Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,” (1Chronicles 12:32 ESVS)
As we prayerfully consider what secular liturgies are around us, you will see that many of the stories that our world, culture, and even OURSELVES make up in order to define and give meaning to our lives do something opposite to the Christians faith…they make “ME” the center of the universe. They are in essence - Ego-centric revolving around one’s self
Life is about Me being happy
People exist to cater to me
Happiness is when I Consume
I only have meaning and value when I possess things
As Christians we need to routinely involve ourselves in another story. Another ritual, another practice, an all around BETTER LITURGY that will bend our hearts towards that which is True, Beautiful, & Good, or what Paul tells the Philippian Church:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESVS)
God’s word commands a Christian to seek and make every effort to make their life, their thoughts, their money, their bodies, their futures NOT EGO-CENTRIC.
Rather THEO-CENTRIC .
Simply, the Church gatherings exist to be Theo-Centric. To be centered on, organized around, and pointed towards our Triune God.
Worship is not an occasion for us to hear sermons about us, sing songs about us, or focus on how to make ourselves feel happily inspired. When the Church gathers (the Body of Christ gathers) it’s an important occasion to redirect our worship back to God.
The rhythms, practices, the LITURGY of the body of Christ are given to us to be the tangible gifts of a God who loves us and wants to recapture our hearts — TO LOVE GOD and to learn to LOVE WHAT GOD LOVES.
Likewise the elements of our worship service are meant to explicitly tell the Gospel Story:
Call to worship
Which reminds us that God is the gracious initiator in all our relationships with him.
The call to worship is a weekly reenactment of the gracious initiative of God to call his people to himself.
Having been called into God’s holy Presence and greeted by his Grace we become aware of two things:
Thus we desire to be led in a time of confession - which is a communal practice where by we desire to come face to face with our sins of commission and our sins of omission, as well as our desires for things that hurt us and others.
Assurance of pardon
The Goal to bringing sin to the light in a worship service is to drive us to Christ. Isn’t that the Good news of the Gospel? That the infinite and eternal God bends to meet us in his son Jesus, and take our punishment upon himself so that we could receive his reward?
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(2Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
Sending / Benediction
We end our service with a Sending or Benediction. We are then sent into the world to tend to God’s creation and make disciples of every nation.
John Calvin suggested that the Church worship service ought to be
“A gymnasium in which the spirit puts us through the paces of a spiritual workout that restores our hearts.”
I love that analogy because, let’s be honest, if you ever desired to work out at a gym or anywhere else, most mornings you wake up, and YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK OUT! Your bed is comfortable and the world outside is always too cold or too hot, and it would be easier to stay where you are.
But he people of God are not in your home.
The sacraments of the spirit are not there.
And you know that even if you don’t “Feel” like it, you need the meal that is the Lords supper, you NEED the nourishment of God’s word.
All of these are not magical, but they are given to us BY GOD to remind our minds, bodies and hearts of his gracious gospel.
God has mercifully given us the daily, weekly rhythms that allow our minds and bodies, our families, our community, to be a part of in order that we may Love God with all our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.