,,According to author James Smith, What do you want? is the most important question of Christian discipleship. Most, or at least many of us have the intellectual knowledge — we know what we should want as followers of Christ — the problem is that in our heart, what we really want is something else. That’s because we are all influenced unconsciously by what Smith calls “secular liturgies” or habits. We like to believe that “we are what we think” when in reality “we are what we desire.”
This means that in addition to studying the Bible, we need to “do” Christianity by establishing traditions and disciplines that help virtuous behavior sink into our bones and become our default position. The liturgy of the church helps with that. Rituals such as baptism, Holy Communion, repeating the creeds, confession, even the simple act of gathering together, reorients and focuses us on the kingdom of God where our true citizenship belongs. Family “liturgies” such as praying together, observing the seasons of the church year, even eating meals together ground us in our faith.
On the other hand, too often secular “liturgies” are allowed to influence our religious life. If worship is modeled after a concert and stop at Starbucks, and Youth Group is reduced to a “game night” we’ve missed the mark.
As Christians we need to place ourselves in God’s story. In the final chapter, Smith says:
“The body of Christ should be a testimony to the kingdom that is coming, bearing witness to how the world will be … Our work and our practices should be foretastes of that coming new city and thus should include protest and critique. Our engagement with God’s world is not about running the show or winning a culture war. We are called to be witnesses, not necessarily winners.”
We are called to be different, and we need to develop the habits and rituals that will make that a reality in our daily lives.
VERDICT: 5 STARS. Thought provoking and challenging. I recommend this one!
For more about Christian worship see these posts: