We are created to worship.
We are first and foremost worshipping creatures.
I have spent my whole life as a worshipper, and there is something very deep within me that knows this to be true. Some of my first memories as a little girl are of swinging on the swing, reaching my little legs up towards heaven as high as I could and singing my heart out to God. We are lovers. To be human is to love and it is what we love that defines who we are. We are relational beings, hard-wired for intimacy.
So the question is not “Will we worship?” but “WHAT will we worship?”
The temple of the mall has a vision of the good life and it is very invested in getting us to partake in practices that will capture our affections and keep us coming back and wanting more. Then there are the temples of the sports stadiums, advertising, media and the cinema. And they use rich imagery, icons, music, sex, desire, and the power of story to pull us in and give us a vision for their version of the good life. Jesus was tempted by these desires too, the desires for success, power, wealth, esteem and security. But Jesus resisted the world’s temptations, knowing that what his soul hungered for was far more than bread, but the very presence of God.
And so as we sit with this question about what will capture our affections, I believe we must engage in practices of worship that connect our heart and our imagination and our deep longings into the experience of God’s presence.
James K. A. Smith has done a great deal of study on this in his book, Desiring the Kingdom. He concluded that although we are thinking, cognitive creatures, what rationalism and perhaps the western church has failed to realize is that we are fundamentally driven by our primal desires whether we realize it or not. That in fact, those subterranean, pre-reflective desires, the ones that we are least aware of, govern us most powerfully. He goes on to state that…
… human beings are not primarily thinking things, or even believing things, but rather imaginative, desiring beings defined fundamentally by love.
We are embodied, affective creatures who are shaped and primed by practices or liturgies that aim our hearts toward a vision of the kingdom. Meaning that it is not so much what we think or believe, or what we think we believe, that form us. Rather it is our communal or cultural practices that profoundly shape us and point us towards a vision of the good life.