In his book Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith suggests that we are not primarily “brains on a stick” or thinking beings, but rather we are “desiring” and loving beings. Regardless of what we claim to believe, we do what we love. Our identity is shaped by what we love as ultimate, “what at the end of the day gives us a sense of meaning, purpose, understanding and orientation … a vision of what we hope for, what we think the good life looks like.” The real question, then, is how our hearts are formed to love and desire what is truly good. Smith is convinced that our desires are not molded primarily by a deposit of information, but instead by the liturgies of life, those practices that train our hearts to value certain things, to aim for certain goals.
What does this have to do with God’s Word? The Bible is the almost-too-good-to-be-true narrative of God’s redemptive plan in history, a plan put into motion before the foundation of the world that culminates in a new heaven and a new earth. In love, God provided the costliest of sacrifices to satisfy His own justice and make a way for His enemies to be adopted as dearly loved children. Through His Word, God reminds us over and over again of His gracious love and fills our hearts with the joy of His abiding presence. He gives us great and precious promises that bolster us with joyful expectation — not only for this life, but also for the life to come. What’s more, God has equipped each of us to be the expression of His love to others, so that in a very real way, through word and deed, time and attention and genuine community, our lives are directed toward the only life that really is good.