What will faith look like in the middle of the 21st century? Even now, we see faith growing to be less reliant on having an institutional church. There will still be an institutional church in some form, but I believe that it will no longer act as a gate keeper for the faith. Instead, the institution will be more a resource for your faith.
Living as Disciples
Two practices are especially important for our lives as disciples. They are both forms of love or, rather, specific expressions of love: Worship and Service. Jesus gave us two overarching commandments to guide our lives: “You shall love the Lord your God, and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” The love of God is worship, and the love of neighbour is service. Both are central to our lives as followers of Jesus. I’ll say a quick word about each.
Loving God in Worship
We come to know Jesus in worship because Worship is the love language of God. With the word worship, I don’t mean a formal liturgical service, although it could be. And I don’t mean singing, though it could be that too. Liturgy and music are both ways of expressing our worship to God. By worship, I mean something more primal. It is an attitude or stance, a way of holding our hearts open and giving glory to God. Our closest word might be reverence, to feel and show awe and respect. Having reverence for God connects us and helps us feel that we are a part of something greater. In reverence, we recognize and KNOW God at a deep, heart level.
We express reverence in many different ways: Abraham build altars; David danced before the Lord and wrote psalms. We give praise, we pray, we sing. All of it is marked by wonder, adoration, gratitude, commitment, presence, offering. It can take place in a formal service, while taking a walk, or doing the dishes. It is a movement of the heart, open and yielding to the one who loves us, and in that openness we connect to the deepest source of our life. This is how we love God.
Loving Others with Service
We don’t worship just any God. We worship Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the one who cares for the weak and the vulnerable, who calls us to love our neighbour, to forgive, to give. What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). This love is service, a life of both giving and receiving. And around these two kinds of love, a community is formed: the body of Christ.