A.W. Tozer wrote this about worship and the fact that we were created for that purpose: “If we do not honor this purpose our lives will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.” Oh, the prescience of brother Tozer.
One of the components of paradise was perfect worship. Before humankind elected to rebel against their Creator, they enjoyed perfect communion with God. They understood Him and were able to communicate directly with Him. They were in the perfect environment and were able to live out the purpose for which they were created, worshipping God. None of the concerns that plague us today were present. Worship was uninhibited, unlimited, untimed, uninterrupted and the participants were unafraid and unblemished.
And then the wars came.
The theological history of worship begins long before Creation, in the heavens. More than our mundane battles over music style, instrumentation or volume, the wars began to be waged over the object of worship. The first worship battle was sparked by Lucifer, the Star of the Morning, being cast out of the presence of God. The Cherubim to which all others aspired desired for worship to be directed to Him rather than its proper object. God, whose name is Jealous, would not abide with this shared arrangement and the wars began.
Coming in the form of a serpent, a creature over which Man had dominion, Satan slithered into the second battle to interrupt the perfect communion of the Garden. A subtle twisting of the words of God bewitched and betrayed the inhabitants of the garden. Putting themselves above the place of God, they’re minds were opened to the worship of self. Redemptive history begins.
The first casualty of the second offensive was Abel. Differences in worship style start here even though God gives every opportunity for propriety in worship to be restored. Rather than do so, Cain becomes the first to divide fellowship with other men over the way in he decides to worship. Rather than seeking God’s desire for worship, the long, sad history of church division get’s its introduction here.
Grace and peace to you…
Yet another inducement to add my Logos software to my telephone flashes onto the screen and I’m tempted. Wonder of wonders! To be able to access my bibles and commentaries while standing in line at Safeway or conjugate Greek verbs while sitting at a red light! Exclamation point!
I am no Luddite and I respect the ability to enjoy a bit of scripture while riding BART or on a break at work but there is a danger implicit in this ever lengthening path of compression. The portability of the device encourages us to ‘squeeze in’ our time in the scriptures. Rather than being deliberate about setting aside an appointed hour and reinforcing this appointment by arranging our well worn bible in our prayer closet, we are drawn into an increasingly fragmented life that is now defined by the brevity of tweets and chirps, giving God 140 characters of our life at a time.
A.W. Tozer, prescient as he was, wrote about this danger back in 1950. In The Divine Conquest (now, God’s Pursuit of Man), he wrote:
In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short,easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No shortcut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him. He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance. He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end.
Perhaps the laptop and a pocket bible should be our limit.
Grace and peace to you.
Like Ravenhill, Bridges, Stedman and other contemporary prophets, A.W. Tozer never in his lifetime stopped calling the Church back to her first love, holiness and purity in Jesus Christ. Tozer was never one to tiptoe around the need for the Church and her individual members to stand apart from the world, to walk and talk as those called out to be God’s people. His criticism could be brash but it was always rooted in a no-nonsense biblical faith that he drew directly from the scriptures. To read Tozer is face the man as he points out the many areas in which you have compromised with the world and in which you risk becoming lukewarm, or worse.
Reclaiming Christianity is a collection of essays that are just this year seeing the light of publication day. In each, Tozer issues the same call for restoration from what he saw as a weak and ineffective Church. He saw her drifting toward entertainment rather than solemnity, modeling her activities on big business rather than community, and drawing her members toward a lukewarm faith rather than holiness.
Remember, brother Tozer went home in 1963. Can you imagine what he would see in today’s church?
This is an excellent collection of short reads that will confront you on every page. Even if you have convinced yourself that you have no areas of compromise, the author’s words will penetrate the thick blanket of justification and ignite the Spirit of conviction within. Let the words sink in, open your Bible and fall to your knees before the Lord. He will quicken your passion and you can do the same favor for your brother.
It takes a contrite and broken heart to pursue holiness. Tozer speaks:
The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will yield its best treasure. God has nothing to say to the frivolous man. A.W. Tozer