Everyone wants some form of change in their life. They would like to be more fit, more generous, more patient, less angry, and the list goes on and on. How is that change accomplished? Outside of discipline and pure grit, how does one become more generous? More kind? In some ways, changing externals is easy (losing weight, budgeting, etc); changing internals is extremely difficult. There is not a single person on the planet that doesn’t want to change at least one thing—how is it done?
The majority of us think that the way to accomplish change is to learn more. Growing up in Western cultures, many of us believe that we are primarily thinking creatures. In other words, the problem lies in a lack of knowledge. This is because we are creatures of the Enlightenment, where rationality, knowledge, and logic are king. But what if there were more factors in play when we consider how to change?
YOU ARE WHAT YOU ______
Finish the sentence and the primary drive for motivation will be revealed. For some, it’s our thoughts; for others, it’s our actions. Following in the school of James K.A. Smith, I would argue that you are fundamentally what you love. Speaking of education (and this sense, change), Smith says, “What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know, but what we love?” When you want to change something, do not primarily assume that what you need to do is learn more information or content. You may need to go a layer deeper and examine what you love, or perhaps easier for us to understand, what you desire.
But then we have to ask, how do we change our loves and desires? It seems that we are still stuck in the same spot. This is where James K.A. Smith’s work is so helpful (particularly his three-part cultural liturgies series or You Are What You Love) because he helps name how to change your loves and desires: liturgical rhythms. What does that even mean?
Smith would argue that everything in life is playing a role in our formation, from the shopping mall to Sunday morning church services. Every magazine, shopping advertisement, cultural story is an invitation to discover the “good life,” a life full of flourishing. In other words, nothing is irreligious because everything is fundamentally about worship (essentially, love and desire are synonyms for worship). Most people are completely unaware of what is shaping and forming them into a type of person. If we want to change, we must look at what is forming our loves.
This is what Smith means by liturgical rhythms or simply put, liturgies. Liturgies are formative habits that we encounter daily, most of the time without even thinking about them. Western culture is constantly shaping us around the values of individualism and consumerism. What if God was inviting us to discover the sham of the Western liturgies and discover a better picture of the “good life,” found within the biblical storyline?
WE ALL WANT FLOURISHING
Every single human wants a life full of flourishing and abundance—rich relationships, a satisfying career, purpose, children, food, etc. Everyone wants to be happy; you love and desire that which you think will make you happy. To be human means to long for flourishing. Yet, many of us find it entirely elusive.
The Bible is actually telling a story of human flourishing, now corrupted through darkness and despair, and able to make right through the True Flourishing One. You see, all of us were originally created to have fullness of joy and life, found in both this world and in God. Because of sin, all of us experience a gap between what we desire and what we experience. God though does not hate this world or the things of this world, rather, he redeems it. He has sent his Son to restore and renew a new community that are now formed around a new set of liturgies that paint a picture of the good life.
So, do you want change? Examine what you love and desire. How do you do that? Examine what daily habits you engage in that are forming you into a certain type of person. Do you want to find flourishing, satisfaction, and ultimate love? Look in the Bible until you come face to face with the representative of a new flourishing humanity—Jesus Christ himself.