We live in a day and age where we can get whatever we want almost immediately. We can literally click a button and have our goods delivered to us in two business days for free and, if we don’t like it, we can send it right back at no charge to us.
Commercials reassure us that we can “have things our way,” or that we deserve things because we’re "worth it.” We are living in the middle of a liturgy whether we are aware of it or not. James K.A. Smith says it this way: “Because our hearts are oriented primarily by desire, by what we love, and because those desires are shaped and molded by the habit-forming practices in which we participate, it is the rituals and practices of the mall – the liturgies of mall and market – that shape our imaginations and how we orient ourselves to the world.”
And what does the “mall and market” tell us? That everything should revolve around us. Everything should be to our liking, make us happy, and please our hearts. As I see it, God's kingdom – the kingdom that should shape our “life liturgy” – stands in opposition to self-centeredness in worship in both a macro and a micro way.
On a Macro Level
We worship what our hearts are captivated by. We have the same lie in our hearts that was told in the garden – that God doesn’t want us to be happy. Yet He has given us the very thing we were made for, the thing that will give us ultimate joy: Himself. Culture tells us a different story. "If you have these clothes, everyone will love you and you will be happy. If you drive this car, people will be impressed by you and you will be happy. If you have the newest technological gadget, nicest house, hippest lifestyle, or the tastiest cuisine, you will be happy."
So you give your life for these things that promise happiness but time and again they leave you empty. Friend, there is a Savior who already fully approves of you. You have a Redeemer who loves you immensely, a King who delights in you. Jesus is who our hearts are made for, and when our hearts are fully captivated by Him, He is what we worship. We must have an awareness that the “liturgy and rituals” of the world are constantly telling us half-truths while Jesus is THE truth. He alone is worthy of our hearts’ full captivation.
On a Micro Level
“Have it your way” has creeped into the gathering. Too often, we can (often times unaware) come into our churches on Sunday and want it to our liking. Instead of saying, “ketchup, mayo, pickle only please,” we say: “hymns only, only current stuff, too loud, too soft, why is he leading, oh great that guy is preaching… please.” We can easily slip into an “arms crossed, apathetic” disposition because we don’t like what is being “served” that day.
But worship isn’t about us.
It begins and ends with our God. He is worthy! What if the gospel shaped our approach to Sunday gatherings more than a burger joint does? What if we spent the week being influenced by the saving truth that the Son of God left the glories of heaven for the slums of the earth and then died for us so that we might have eternal life? What if we closed our eyes and imagined our King on His throne, listening to the praises of His people? We’d have a unified, powerful time of worship where voices are raised as one to our King.
I understand we have preferences and I’m not trying to belittle that, but I am calling on us to lay down our preferences for the sake of unity of the body. We have a great privilege in gathering to worship. I pray that we can let the glory of God – who He is and what He’s done – fuel our worship and drive out divisiveness; for the day is coming when every tribe, tongue, and nation will be singing a song to the Lamb who sits on the throne. May that future inform our present, and may we have gospel-shaped lives of worship that overflow into gospel-fueled times of worship on Sundays.