When God forgives, he at once restores.
Liturgy. The word most likely conjures up negative impressions of stuffy, stale religious services that don’t really speak to our enlightened, contemporary culture. By definition, liturgy means: a customary repertoire of ideas, phrases, or observances; a prescribed form for public religious worship. Now, admit it…your thoughts went straight to rigid, boring and conforming. Am I right?
But, it doesn’t matter if we describe our worldview and beliefs as Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic….or even Atheist. The fact is, every single one of us embraces some sort of liturgy that guides our life.
Granted, the term, liturgy, is mainly associated with religious worship. But there are other types of liturgy present in our culture. Liturgy is simply the set of beliefs and ideals that we embrace as part of our life. It’s how we live at our core….and many times, that can be very surprising….regardless of what we admit in public.
Our culture has been programmed to pursue personal happiness above everything else. We hold sacred the need to have a positive self-image and crave affirmation in oder to feel worthy. We get hurt emotionally and hunt tirelessly for self-help ways to cure our damaged psyches. We search for someone…anyone….to blame for our unhappiness. And if we were just a little richer, a little thinner, a little taller, a little more successful…then we’d be so much happier. If we had our perfect job, perfect spouse, perfect children, perfect house, perfect car, life would be…..perfect! This is part of our culture’s liturgy.
The condition of our hearts is the determining factor in what type of liturgy we adopt for our lives. Many people experience tragic losses or become deeply hurt psychologically and emotionally. Some descend into an endless cycle of brokenness and their lives reflect this in their actions and how they live. Others are able to shed tears, feel the pain….yet they aren’t incapacitated and live forever in an abyss. Why is that? How can some people accept brokenness without letting it consume them?
Brokenness is a symptom of our heart’s condition…It’s only when we realize the world is broken….life is broken….we are broken…that we can take steps to truly heal and be whole again.
First century Corinth has a lot in common with our twenty-first century cultural liturgy. Theirs was a culture of wealth, arrogance, immorality, permissiveness, idolatry and excessiveness. The church in Corinth called themselves Christian, yet embraced pervasive practices…which led them down a path of brokenness and unfulfillment. They spent their time seeking happiness in all the wrong places. They adopted the cultural liturgy of personal gain and happiness at any cost, and hoped it would satisfy their needs, wants and desires. But it didn’t. It just caused them to crave more and left them feeling empty.
God is not as interested in us being happy all the time as we are. He’s much more focused on making us holy than making us happy. And many times that process takes the form of making us humble and broken. He will use situations and experiences to break our arrogant, prideful hearts and humble us to ask for His help. Some of us experience the first part….the brokenness part….but don’t embrace the humbleness and asking God for help part. When that happens, we tend to spend our lives in an endless cycle of depression, self-pity, blaming others and are generally sucky to be around. The sooner we admit we’re broken and won’t be able to fix it by looking to our culture’s quick-fix solutions or blaming others, the sooner God can restore in us the hope of a better future.
Christians across the world celebrated Easter last week. The time when Jesus chose to insert himself into the culture’s liturgy and die to reconcile broken lives back to a fulfilling relationship with the Creator. As a Christian, with the saving grace of his messy death and divine resurrection, the liturgy of my life should be one of humbleness, gratitude and self-sacrifice. With that, everything else that unfolds in my life will look entirely different.
What is the liturgy of your life?