Monday, December 31, 2007

A.W. Tozer on Worship

Aiden W. Tozer
An excerpt from WHATEVER HAPPENED TO WORSHIP? (by A.W. Tozer) pp.14-20
 
But really, my brother or sister, we are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him. We do not come to God that we might be automatic Christians, cookie-cutter Christians, Christians stamped out with a die.
 
God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness.
 
This does not mean, and I am not saying, that we must all worship alike. The Holy Spirit does not operate by anyone's preconceived idea or formula. But this I know: when the Holy Spirit of God comes among us with His anointing, we become a wor­shiping people. This may be hard for some to admit, but when we are truly worshiping and adoring the God of all grace and of all love and of all mercy and of all truth, we may not be quiet enough to please everyone.
 
I recall Luke's description of the throngs on that first Palm Sunday:
The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out (19:37-40).
 
Let me say two things here. First, I do not believe it is necessarily true that we are worshiping God when we are making a lot of racket. But not infrequently worship is audible. When Jesus came into Jerusalem presenting Himself as Messiah there was a great multitude and there was a great noise. Doubtless many who joined in the singing and the praise had never been able to sing in the right key. When you have a group of people singing anywhere, you know that some of them will not be in tune.

But this is the point to their worship: they were united in praises to God.
 
Second, I would warn those who are cultured, quiet, self-possessed, poised and sophisticated, that if they are embarrassed in church when some happy Christian says "Amen!" they may actually be in need of some spiritual enlightenment. The wor­shiping saints of God in the Body of Christ have often been a little bit noisy.
 
I hope you have read some of the devotionals left us by that dear old English saint, Lady Julian, who lived more than 600 years ago.
 
She wrote that one day she had been thinking about how high and lofty Jesus was, and yet how He Himself meets the humblest part of our human desire. She received such blessing within her being that she could not control herself. She let go with a shout and praised God out loud in Latin.
 
Translated into English, it would have come out "Well, glory to God!"
 
Now, if that bothers you, friend, it may be be­cause you do not know the kind of spiritual bless­ings and delight the Holy Spirit is waiting to provide among God's worshiping saints. Did you notice what Luke said about the Phari­sees and their request that Jesus should rebuke His disciples for praising God with loud voices? Their ritual rules probably allowed them to whis­per the words "Glory to God!", but it really pained them to hear anyone saying them out loud.
Jesus told the Pharisees in effect: "They are doing the right thing. God my Father and I and the Holy Ghost are to be worshiped. If men and women will not worship me, the very rocks will shout my praises!"
 
Those religious Pharisees, polished and smoothed and polished again, would have died right there in their tracks if they had heard a rock given a voice and praising the Lord.
Well, we have great churches and we have beau­tiful sanctuaries and we join in the chorus, "We have need of nothing." But there is every indication that we are in need of worshipers.
 
We have a lot of men willing to sit on our church boards who have no desire for spiritual joy and radiance and who never show up for the church prayer meeting. These are the men who often make the decisions about the church budget and the church expenses and where the frills will go in the new edifice.
 
They are the fellows who run the church, but you cannot get them to the prayer meeting because they are not worshipers.
 
Perhaps you do not think this is an important matter, but that puts you on the other side as far as I am concerned.
 
It seems to me that it has always been a frightful incongruity that men who do not pray and do not worship are nevertheless actually running many of the churches and ultimately determining the direc­tion they will take.
 
It hits very close to our own situations, perhaps, but we should confess that in many "good" churches, we let the women do the praying and let the men do the voting.
 
Because we are not truly worshipers, we spend a lot of time in the churches just spinning our wheels, burning the gasoline, making a noise but not get­ting anywhere.
 
Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters.
 
That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don't mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors put­ting on a home-talent show.
 
I tell you, outside of politics there is not another field of activity that has more words and fewer deeds, more wind and less rain.
What are we going to do about this awesome, beautiful worship that God calls for? I would rather worship God than do any other thing I know of in all this wide world.
I would not even attempt to tell you how many hymnbooks are piled up in my study. I cannot sing a lick, but that is nobody's business. God thinks I am an opera star!
God listens while I sing to Him the old French hymns in translation, the old Latin hymns in trans­lation. God listens while I sing the old Greek hymns from the Eastern church as well as the beautiful psalms done in meter and some of the simpler songs of Watts and Wesley and the rest. I mean it when I say that I would rather worship God than to do anything else. You may reply, "If you worship God you do nothing else!”
 
But that only reveals that you have not done your homework. The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God.
 
Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the apostle Paul was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God.
A survey of church history will prove that it was those who were the yearning worshipers who also became the great workers. Those great saints whose hymns we so tenderly sing were active in their faith to the point that we must wonder how they ever did it all.
 
The great hospitals have grown out of the hearts of worshiping men. The mental institutions grew out of the hearts of worshiping and compassionate men and women. We should say, too, that wher­ever the church has come out of her lethargy, rising from her sleep and into the tides of revival and spiritual renewal, always the worshipers were back of it.

We will be making a mistake if we just stand back and say, "But if we give ourselves to worship, no one will do anything!”
 
On the contrary, if we give ourselves to God's call to worship, everyone will do more than he or she is doing now. Only, what he or she does will have significance and meaning to it. It will have the quality of eternity in it—it will be gold, silver and precious stones, not wood, hay and stubble.
I cannot speak for you, but I want to be among those who worship. I do not want just to be a part of some great ecclesiastical machine where the pastor turns the crank and the machine runs. You knowthe pastor loves everybody and everybody loves him. He has to do it. He is paid to do it.
 
I wish that we might get back to worship again. Then when people come into the church they will instantly sense that they have come among holy people, God's people. They can testify, "Of a truth God is in this place."