…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
EPHESIANS 4:15-16 (ESV)
“Discipline without direction is drudgery.” Donald Whitney’s warning is pretty clear to us as we continue this pilgrimage: if you don’t know where you’re going, eventually you’ll stop walking.
Without something to walk toward – without a vision of a hopeful destination – the steps always become too heavy. The questions become too large. The detours start to look more and more appealing. A “how” without a “why” has a short shelf life.
When a child is learning how to walk, an explanation of steps will not do. A child has to want to walk. This is of course a blessing to the baby and the parents. It’s much easier to teach walking by showing the baby what it looks like and then giving him something to walk to. When my daughter was taking her first attempts at steps, one of us would sit on the floor a few feet away from her with our arms stretched out. The other parent would stand behind and give her a hand or two to hold as she stood and wobbled forward. We were telling her two things. “It is good to come and be with me.” “I won’t let you fall on the way here.”
Every journey is defined by a vision. We always aim for what we most love and value. And all of us right now are walking toward something we worship.
We tend to associate worship with what we see at church - things like singing and praying - but it encompasses a whole bunch of human activities. We orient budgets, design cities and homes and offices, create schedules and diets, form habits, and foster relationships around what we most desire. The way we behave, the places we go, the things we say all reveal what we see as the source of our ultimate satisfaction. Christian worship is when all these things we do declare God as the only truly worthy object of our love. When we see that it is Him waiting for us on the other end of the path, we get up and wobble forward.
Like any great parent would, God also gives us reassurance on our way. Every step – below us, beside us, above us, behind us, ahead of us, within us – He is here for us. His Spirit draws us near and empowers our steps. His Son is the path we walk to the Father and the hand we hold to see Him. We are not chasing a fleeing prize in this life. We are learning more and more how to come and be with a loving God.
We need to keep the Gospel in view if we want to keep going. We need daily for grace to amaze us and for sin to disgust us. We need to remember and return to who God is, who we are to Him, and who He saved us to be. Every weekend when we gather, we walk through this story in the order of our services (what we call “liturgies). Sundays offer us the opportunity to actively remember Jesus’ saving grace. We look at the word of God in Scripture, we sing songs of praise and gratitude, we pray earnestly for God’s wisdom and peace. We do this to involve our whole selves. Liturgies command our attention and inspire our response, and when we leave, we are reoriented, renewed, changed.
For the next four weeks, we’re going to spread the Gospel narrative we walk through every Sunday over unique seven-day stretches. Each day can be read on its own but will have a greater impact when experienced in the context of the preceding day and the week as a whole. Here’s what we’ll be looking at in this flow of weekly liturgies:
Call to Worship: Who is the God who gathers us?
Call to Worship: Who are we to God?
Adoration: God’s nature deserves our praise.
Confession: God’s forgiveness deserves our honesty.
Assurance: God’s promise cannot be shaken.
Thanksgiving: How can we respond to the gift of salvation?
Benediction: Who will we tell of this gift of salvation?
In a world of distractions, of spiritual potholes and pit stops, persistence in devotion can anchor a detour-prone heart. It can also encourage the people walking with us. For the next four weeks, let’s commit to keeping the path, reminding each other of the heart of the God who calls and cares for us.
“It is good to come and be with me. I won’t let you fall on the way here.”