“It’s my money, and I need it now,” he screams while watching tv. “It’s my money, and I want it now,” another man yells out his window “It’s my money, and I want it now,” she says to the world out her balcony window. No, this is not kids screaming for their allowance. Not a trust fund baby, calling out for their weekly stipend. This is normal looking adults needing their money immediately from their structured settlement in this late night commercial. Apparently this is an acceptable behavior nowadays.
“We are a nation of consumers, and there is nothing wrong with that,” the women sweetly says at the beginning of the next credit card commercial. I guess we are supposed to nod our heads and accept this statement. Yea, we are consumers, and that’s good. It is ok if we spend more than we make, if in some way we can be responsible spending more than we make. Somewhere we stopped being stewards and started being consumers.
I could go Dave Ramsey on these commercials, and talk about the general absurdity of credit and get-rich-quick schemes, but he does it so well, so let’s go another direction. What is the liturgy that shapes your life? By liturgy, I do not mean simply a responsive readings or a public prayer in a worship service, but here I mean the words and phrases that shape our thought processes and our worship.I recently met with a seminary professor as part of the spiritual formation process here at Asbury. As we were talking about my journey of faith, I was constantly amazed at his thought process. It was with amazing clarity that, no matter what the subject, he was able to lead our conversation back to the scripture. Now, obviously, this is what he does for a living, but you can also tell the scripture is what gives him life.
I am positive that that is not how most of us operate. Personally, I am more likely to think in quotes from The Office or country songs, than I am from scripture. Additionally, I have been inundated with messages from advertisements and the media that shape the way I think. This is the goal of the above commercials that I mentioned, to shape the way that I think. It’s not just ok if I get what I want, but I deserve it, need it, and have a right to it. Watching your common television commercial will tell you that if you just use this product, you will look like this, play sports like him, or have fun like them. If you think you are immune to this bombardment of secular liturgy, then I dare you not to hum your favorite freecreditreport.com jingle during the rest of this blog post.
This secular liturgy infiltrates our mind, and we become slaves to those messages we receive, and end up worshiping an idealized image of ourselves as we desire to be seen by others.
It is our responsibility as Christians to put ourselves in position to receive a spiritual liturgy, to allow the Word of God and words of life be permeate us. This is not easy to do, because we are surrounded by secular liturgy from tv, radio, billboards, and conversations with some friends. It is, however, necessary that we allow life-giving words to shape us into the image of God.
What can we do to be assured that we have more life-giving liturgy? First, we spend time reading the Bible. Jesus says in the John 15, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for anything you wish and it will be done for you.” It is essential that we let these words reside deeply in our hearts, so that they are the well-spring of lives. Additionally, I give you the practice of memorizing scripture. We need to intimately know scripture like we intimately know the latest no. 1 single. As you rehearse scripture, the Word of God continually gets deeper roots in your soul.
Thirdly, read spiritual classics. How have great saints of the faith expressed their faith? You can read classic liturgical prayers and continually learn how others expressed their faith to God through their prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. These prayers help form an image of God that shapes how we love and worship God. (The Psalms are good for this as well.) Next, listen to Christian music especially hymns. These can have a similiar effect to the freecreditreport.com jingles. They become, like Heather recently blogged about, a soundtrack that surrounds or defines seasons of our lives. Often, I will begin prayer through saying a hymn or even at times playing music on my guitar.
Another way to receive the liturgy of life is through public worship. The whole worship service should provide many words of life both at the time and provide ways to think about God. Hopefully these words last long past the worship service. Our liturgy is additionally shaped through our conversations with others. So, be aware of your conversation with others and make it a practice to communicate what God is doing as well as how the Cubs are doing.
So, brothers and sisters, be aware of the liturgy of your life. Are you shaped more by the commercials you watch or the God you serve? Paul might have said it best in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect..”