Today’s post caps off our series, HEART MATTERS. We’ve been digging deep, inviting God to move a few things around in the place where it matters most. Our Hearts. Jesus said, “From the outflow of the heart, the mouth speaks”. You don’t even have to follow Jesus to appreciate that statement, it simply rings true in any arena. Of course, I follow him and want others to, which makes these words even more important for us.
What this tells us is that what is inside will be evident as it flows out of me.
It’s easy to know what’s in people’s hearts – WATCH & LISTEN. Ok, not super easy, but not as hard as we think. Poke someone a little and you’ll see that what is inside will leak out. We have friends that love different things, that won’t shut up about what they’re passionate about. Sports, Money, Work, Power, etc. Of course we’d like them to more in love with family, community, and things like generosity and justice. The point is, we wear our hearts on our sleeves without even realizing it.
How do we begin to love something or have a heart for something? By intentionally or unintentionally, letting that thing or person in. I remember the first golf club I bought…it began a new life long passion. Who knew I’d be that hooked.
More importantly…I remember the first time I met Janet, my wife, and every key moment after that. She slowly got a hold of my heart…I fell for her, hooked, line and sinker.
But what about the things we don’t want in our heart? I could name them…but you probably have a few things rolling through your mind. The things we wished we did better at guarding against?
I guess the question we wanna get to today is this: How can we form our hearts so that our lives are reoriented towards the values of God’s Kingdom and not the many broken values that fill up our space and culture?
It all depends on what we use as our main liturgy? Liturgy? What does liturgy have to do with this?
We might think that liturgy is only found in the church – a formula or method used for public worship. Good guess. But anything can be our liturgy, with or without knowing it? Anything we find ourselves going back to, that forms our hearts with the intention of affecting our lives – that can be our liturgy.
This is in fact why the church has traditionally used liturgy (TRADITIONAL & non-traditional).
We are what we worship.
Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your god.”
Essentially – we are what we worship because we worship what we love. And because we worship what we love, we are what we worship.
Worship isn’t optional. John Calvin (I disagree with him on other things) refers to our heart as an idol factory. Which means that the only choice we get is not ‘if’ we worship, but ‘what’ we worship.
Now, back to LITURGY…
What liturgy do we use to worship what we love? What liturgies are we allowing to form our hearts and in turn affect what our lives look like? Maybe a better question is, what heart & life do we long for?
Think about Paul’s words from Colossians 3:1, “Set your hearts on things above”. Is your heart set on Sports, on money, on politics, on consumerism, on fitting in, on success, on ________?
James K Smith says, “It’s not if you long for some version of the kingdom, but which version you long for”
There’s a good chance that your liturgy of choice is shaping you?
LITURGY…of all kinds…
Baseball has a liturgy (summer days, crowds, daily rhythm, relax, take it in, stats)
Football (strategy, military, weekly rhythm (like church), advance the ball at all costs)
Hockey Night in Canada (Apparently observing this holy Saturday night makes you authentically Canadian. Check out Ron Maclean’s commercial)
Netflix as liturgy (choice, my time, pay per watch, binge, escapism, stories, comfort viewing)
Politics (your agenda, opposite of opponents, most votes = success, false claims, win at all costs)
Second Cup Men’s Washroom Sign…
The MALL (my favourite example)
sales, options, desire, walking in circles, glamorous lifestyle, quantity, style, attention, promotion, advertisement…
“Consumerism is the worship of the god of quantity, advertising is its liturgy.” John O’Donohue
I shop because I am broken
I shop with others
I shop therefore I am
Don’t ask/Don’t tell/Just consume
We need to take a liturgical audit of our life. Liturgy forms us. If that’s true, what kind do we allow in.
Not all things we do are decisions – some just happen. Because with or without knowing it, our hearts have been formed in a certain way. Like driving home and not realizing how you got there. Ever done that? YA.
If am what I love. And I am what I worship. And I am what my heart says I am. Then I can choose what liturgy forms my heart and my life.
LITURGY…that helps us…
Will we choose our most important liturgy, the most important story, to form and shape our heart, to re-orient our heart, to re-arrange and re-furnish our heart? It’s not whether it is formed, but how it is formed.
The practice of Christian worship trains our love – they are practices for the coming kingdom, habitualizing us as citizens of the kingdom of God. We can become lovers of God. But learning to love God takes practice.
Let’s land on Paul’s words in Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Similar to what Paul says in verse 1 (set your hearts on things above) He continues this theme. Also written like this. “Let the peace of Christ be the decider of all things within your heart” “…let him be the umpire in your heart”
The verb (rule) is borrowed from the athletic arena and is the word for umpire. Umpires settle things, they help decide the play on the field. This way when you’re faced with a feeling or decision that clashes, Christ, the umpire, can decide for you. He can be the arbiter between conflicting emotions in our heart.
Notice where Paul goes from here: Sing Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs. LITURGY!!!
[Pliny, Roman Gov, reporting to the Emperor is quoted saying “They met at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as Lord”]
From early on, the church recognized that they needed some kind of liturgy to combat the other liturgies coming at them from every side. They used worship to point their hearts toward Jesus.
What will you look to, allow in, and repeat, that forms and re-orients your heart towards Jesus?
According to Paul, your liturgy will impact everything you do: It will help you to…Be Peaceful. Be Thankful. And in whatever you do, do it with Christ in mind.
Be Peaceful in a culture that loves violence.
Be Thankful in a culture that is caught in an insatiable craving for more, a perpetual dissatisfaction of that they think they don’t have.
Be Present in everything they do, in everyplace they find themselves.
What is forming you?
What is your liturgy of choice? The one you allow to shape you?
What’s your strategy to re-orient your heart towards Jesus and his Kingdom and his ways?
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
small(er) group questions:
What were some things that resonated or caused you to question from this week’s conversation?
What do you make of Jesus’ statement, “From the outflow of your heart the mouth speaks”?
What can you identify as a liturgy in your life, that has formed you in some way or has the potential to do so? Name a few others as well? Cultural ones?
Paul encourages the early church to sing Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual songs as a way of forming their hearts to Jesus? How would define this in 2017? Same? Different?
– His hopeful outcomes were Peace, Gratefulness, Living every moment with Christ in mind?
– What do you think? And could you add a few more?
What other things help you reorient your heart towards Jesus? What are some thing’s you may feel challenged you to try? What strategy will you or have you discovered?
What’s one personal take home from this series?