Shifting the Goal from Winning to Worship: Six Practices to Reorient Yourself to God’s Kingdom
Each day, we are bombarded by headlines like these:
These stories compete for our allegiance and tempt us to believe in a reality where winning is everything—even if it destroys lives and our most precious relationships. Is this the story we confess? I’m skeptical. As Christians, our story is of a world created by a good, giving, and forgiving God – a world deeply marred by the ugliness of sin but being redeemed even more beautifully by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. To which story will we be faithful? This is our most critical, daily choice.
Why? Because our movements—our behaviors and practices—will naturally align with that story. Which story do your practices reflect? I confess mine often reflect the city of humanity more than the city of God. For instance, my watching and meditating on the news instead of on the word of God reveals that what I, in practice, believe to be relevant and important is what the news tells me. And it usually tells me the “other” side is evil and uneducated and that I am righteous and intelligent. Like it or not, the storylines and practices we inhabit both reveal and inform what we value, and they dictate how we negotiate our life together.
So, how can we reorient our lives toward God’s kingdom? The only way out of the seductive cultural narrative back into God’s life is through an intentional reappropriation of the Christian story and its practices. Just as a gardener prepares the ground for the seed to grow, Christian practices prepare the ground for the Spirit’s work. By intentionally engaging the practices that flow out of the story, we can recuperate our ability to live into Christ’s example of self-giving love and restore our theological imagination the world so desperately needs.
Whether it’s reading Scripture over morning coffee, praying throughout the day, or biting our tongues when we’re tempted speak contemptuously toward one of God’s beloved children, if we intentionally align our practices with God’s kingdom, we avoid falling into practices that fuel our divisiveness and erode our love for God and one other. I invite you to try these six formative practices to help you retain or regain that love and shift your goal from winning toward worship.
The world—the church and the broader culture—needs us to be a reconciled and reconciling people. They need us to embody the good news of Christ’s victory over death. We need to demonstrate that we don’t need to win, because he’s already won. Again, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, Christians have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And there is nothing more hopeful, relevant, or beautiful in our polarized age than reconciliation.
This moment of ugly division is our moment—and our opportunity—to display the beauty of Christ.