Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I started a new book. It's one I told you I would be reading through the fall, and I invited (maybe urged! but at least invited) everyone to join me. James Smith's three-part Cultural Liturgies Series is fantastic: Imagining the Kingdom, Desiring the Kingdom, and Awaiting the King. This fall, I want us to read through the abbreviated version of these three, You Are What You Love. (Find it at Powell's or on Kindle)
When I opened my copy, the preface sounded eerily reminiscent of what I was after in my sermon on Sunday:
You’ve caught a vision. God has gotten bigger for you. You’ve captured a sense of the gospel’s scope and reach—that the renewing power of Christ reaches “far as the curse is found.” You have come to realize that God is not just in the soul-rescue business; he is redeeming all things (Col. 1:20).
The Bible has come to life for you in ways you’ve never experienced before. It’s almost like you’re seeing Genesis 1 and 2 for the first time, realizing that we’re made to be makers, commissioned to be God’s image bearers by taking up our God-given labor of culture-making. It’s as if someone gave you a new decoder ring for reading the prophets. You can’t understand how you ever missed God’s passionate concern for justice—calling on the people of God to care for the downtrodden and champion the oppressed. Now as you read you can’t help but notice the persistent presence of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.
Now the question is: What does this have to do with church? This book articulates a spirituality for culture-makers, showing (I hope) why discipleship needs to be centered in and fueled by our immersion in the body of Christ. Worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom. If you are passionate about seeking justice, renewing culture, and taking up your vocation to unfurl all of creation’s potential, you need to invest in the formation of your imagination. You need to curate your heart. You need to worship well. Because you are what you love. And you worship what you love. And you might not love what you think. Which raises an important question. Let’s dare to ask it.
In our fall Sunday School class we will be reading through and using James Smith's You Are What You Love to launch us into discussions on the nature of discipleship. How are our hearts shaped and molded little by little, and how do we engage that process? How do we rest in Christ and at the same time exercise proper diligence in the things to which he calls us?
Grab a copy (Powells, Amazon, Paper, Kindle - whatever), and let's get started. The content of the book is under 200 pages. I have only read the first chapter so far, but it's good, and I think it will fuel good and refreshing conversations for us.