Week 4: Sexual Wholeness for a Culture that Splits Bodies from Souls
In the fourth week of this sermon series, we explored how, in our culture, we’ve divided spirituality and sexuality, one part in the church and one part in society, religion keeping God, and the secular world keeping sex. And that’s a broken, harmful approach that hasn’t led to wholeness but has led to shame, destructive behavior, and a lack of wholeness God desires for all of us.
NAMING SEXUALLY DE-FORMED MESSAGES
The act of naming our histories of sexual formation doesn’t fully address the gaps and errors that shape our lives, but it can help us become aware of the lies and scripts we’ve consciously and subconsciously been taught. By naming the illusions and lies we’ve been handed, we open ourselves to the liberating truth of God’s saving love.
The practice of sobriety is not just for people in drug rehab programs; it’s for all of us. In any given day, we are bombarded with temptations to objectify others. We emotionally use people to fill the loneliness we carry. We find ourselves in cycles of compulsive behavior. There are three ways we can practice sobriety.
- Find a sobriety community.
- Reframe addiction.
- Confess through prayer.
To absolutely deny the very real affection and longing we have is to subscribe to the starvation approach Ryan talked about in his sermon. This is not a good option. However, in our attempts to satisfy the longing for intimacy, connection, and vulnerability, we rush to the act of sex prematurely. In the process, we find ourselves spiritually and emotionally attached to others without the protective gift of covenant vows. However, even for those in marriage, social bonding is a critical element to developing the wholeness God desires for all of us.
Let’s look to the example of Jesus. Jesus experienced intimacy, connection, and vulnerability throughout his life while living a life outside of physical sex. We need to learn to live connected to others in life-giving relationships- to know and be known. The church is a place where we can develop these life-giving relationships that offer us an opportunity to real connection.
Week 3: Interior Examination for a World Living on the Surface
In the third week of this sermon series, we explored how interior examination enable us to realize there is more to us than we see, and that we should invite God to help us understand the depth of our being. Before introducing these practices, it is crucial to recognize three keys to interior examination.
- Interior examination requires honesty.
- Interior examination requires courage
- Interior examination often requires help.
You don’t have to do this alone. We’ve been created to experience life through relationships. One of the most important relationships you can foster is with a licensed, professional counselor to help you navigate the tapestry that is you.
If you need help finding a counselor, we highly recommend Southside Pastoral Counseling at https://indypastoralcounseling.com.
EXAMINING OUR FAMILY OF ORIGIN
Our family of origin is the environment that has formatively shaped us. In examining our family of origin we need to pay careful attention to the patterns we were taught, the trauma we experienced, and the scripts we’ve continued to follow.
EXAMINATION OF OUR ANXIETY
“Time and time again, God invites his people to come out from debilitating fear and into a deeper experience of peace and trust. When we examine our anxiety, we can expose the power and grip it has on our lives in place of God’s great love.”– Rich Villodas, The Deeply Formed Life, page 118.
EXAMINATION OF OUR FEELINGS
Pete and Geri Scazzero have created a straightforward, powerful tool called Explore the Iceberg. The tool offers four simply questions as a helpful guide for cultivating a life of interior examination.
- What are you mad about?
- What are you sad about?
- What are you anxious about?
- What are you glad about?
EXAMINATION OF OUR REACTIONS
As we see with examination of our feelings, questions help us dig beneath the surface of our lives. These five questions help us understand what we’re experiencing and feeling when we react negatively or disproportionately to someone or something in our lives.
- What happened?
- What am I feeling?
- What is the story I’m telling myself?
- What does the gospel say?
- What counter-instinctual action is needed?
Week 2: Racial Reconciliation for a Divided World
In the second week of this sermon series, we discovered how we are to practice the hard work of tearing down walls of racism and hatred, as we celebrate the human family made in the image of God
“One of the ways we dishonor the image of God in others is by not doing the hard work of examining the assumptions and biases we have against them.”– Rich Villodas.
We all have families of origin and surrounding culture that have taught us how we view others. We often fail to process what we’ve been told about other groups of people, and often what we’ve been told are harmful stories and lies about others. We subconsciously perpetuate myths that lead to generational bias. We need to develop self-awareness and self-examination to see and address these myths and prejudices.
We can all learn something about being better listeners, but we have to get beyond simply listening to each other. We have to hear each other and process what’s being said. We need to pause on formulating answers until we know we’ve truly listened to each other. We have to be open-minded instead of listening for agreement. We have to be comfortable that we could be wrong and seek to be corrected. We must leave behind the familiar and make space for a different narrative than what we’ve embraced.
We need to confess and seek forgiveness.
“Reconciliation requires regular confession, repentance, and forgiveness. When we gather as a church, we come together as deeply broken and frail people. We sin against God, and we sin against each other. We are all complicit—myself included.”– Rich Villodas.
This prayer, which you’re about to read, has roots in tradition and historic Christianity, reads more like a confession. Confession is what we need to regularly do as the people of God to become deeply formed in the way of Jesus if we are to live out the call to invite all people into the new family formed by Jesus.
Prayer of Confession (Book of Common Prayer)
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Week 1: Contemplative Rhythms for an Exhausted Life
In the first week of this sermon series, we explored the need to create space in our busy lives to walk with God, to experience His presence in our lives. In our culture, we have filled ourselves up with so much stuff that we have left no room for God to work on our hearts. We have to make room so we can slow down, making room to experience a different kind of overflow; an overflow of God’s love.
We need to do more than recognize the need for space to hear from God; we need to engage in particular practices that can form our lives in a new direction.
Although, there are many practices from which to choose, here are four that will help you engage your faith at a deeper level.
Jesus modeled it for us the importance of courageously, and intentionally, stepping away from the demands of life to make room to experience the presence and peace of God. Commit to a time (each day, once a week, or another regular pattern) where you choose to focus on communion with God through silence.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35
Sabbath keeping is a weekly twenty-four-hour period of unhurried delight with no have-tos or ought-tos, resulting in deep rest and renewal. In the presence of Sabbath keeping, we live out the truth that one day we will leave all things unfinished as we rest in the arms of Jesus. This is hard for us in our culture of over-scheduled hurry, so begin a strategy to create this space.
SLOW READING OF SCRIPTURE
We are a skimming, scrolling, speed-reading culture. Scripture invites us into questions, deep-diving, and unsettled meditation on the words of scripture as we engage the story of God’s people and find ourselves as part of the narrative of what God is still doing. Click the button below for a devotional Bible reading guide to help you make this part of your daily life.
This series is based on the book of the same name by Rich Villodas, pastor of New Life Fellowship in New York City. The book is available at most online retailers including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An personal devotion and discussion guide is available at www.richvillodas.com, and is a great way to support the author.
The intention of this series, and this page on our website, is to serve as introduction and invitation to explore further. To do that, we encourage you to purchase the book, or borrow it from the library, to learn more about living The Deeply Formed Life.