Last week I wrote about how God uses the worship gatherings to “rightly order our loves.” I would like to take a few minutes now to explore this idea a little further.
In James K. A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love, he spends a great deal of time expounding Augustine’s theology of disordered loves. Smith also believes that disordered loves are at the heart of our sin and rebellion against God. His book goes into detail to explain how what really drives our loves is the habits that we do on a regular basis. These habits can be individual, but the greater impacting habits are those that are done in community. In essence, he explains tht aas people we are regularly participating in “liturgies,” whether or not we realize it.
As I have discussed before, liturgy is a word that many of us from the Free Church tradition may wince at, yet it simply means “the work of the people.” In the context of the church and worship it is all about the way that we worship. We know that idolatry – our turning away from worshiping the true God to worship something that is created instead – is at the core of our sin. Smith insists that we have liturgies all throughout our culture that we regularly participate in that lead us to this idolatry as a community. To illustrate this he gives a poignant example of the “liturgy of the mall” showing all of the rituals and familiarity of the shopping mall, which so many of us are acquainted with. His point is that we are worshiping idols without even realizing it, all just because of our participation in these “liturgies.” And the reality is that we participate in these sorts of liturgies every day completely unaware of how they are shaping us (I can think of things like our smart phones, social media, and playing video games just to name a few).
So, what’s the answer to all of this? How do we replace these liturgies or community habits with something greater? You have probably already guessed it! We participate in habits and liturgies that rightly order our worship.
This is yet another reason why participating in corporate worship with the body of Christ week-after-week is so profoundly important. We must counteract the cultural liturgies that beg us to worship the many idols of our societies by replacing them with true worship of the living God that is done in the community of the redeemed. We must remember the reality that we are primarily citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven and not of this world (Praise the Lord!). We must remember that when we receive the gift of salvation through Jesus, the Son of God, that we no longer belong to the “dominion of darkness” (Col. 1:13) and we are not only a new creation or a new person, but, even greater, we are part of a new people.
How could we not want to worship with this royal priesthood and holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9) every week? How could we not be overjoyed with excitement by the fact that we get to participate in a foretaste of “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11) as we come out of the world each week to gather with our fellow citizens of the Eternal Kingdom? Will you participate in counteracting the liturgies of our culture this week?
For this Sunday:
This Sunday we will be singing:
Come People of the Risen King
Before the Throne of God Above
Hallelujah for the Cross
Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor
I Will Sing of My Redeemer
Dr. George Harton will be preaching this Sunday as we continue in our series on Wisdom. He will be preaching on wisdom in decision making. As always, we ask that you would pray for those leading the service as well as our entire congregation as we once again consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
See you Sunday!
*If you’re interested in exploring some of Smith’s ideas a little more, he has written a helpful article over at desiringgod.org, which discusses many of these things in a little more detail.