Rev Robert Colman wrote as the worship director at Blackburn Baptist Church, Melbourne, and is a well known singer and worship leader.
our primary task in life
is to worship God
Several decades ago, A. W. Tozer said, “Worship is the missing jewel in the Christian Church’. In some ways things have changed since Tozer wrote those words. Over the past 25 years the Holy Spirit has been renewing his church in a remarkable way and bringing Christians everywhere a new understanding of the meaning and importance of worship. We have a way to go though, if we are to follow the words of Jesus to ‘worship the Father in spirit and in truth’.
Our primary task in life is to worship God. Deep within everyone there is an urge to worship. It was placed there by God. If we do not worship the Most High God, then we will worship ourselves, or an extension of ourselves, for we MUST worship.
Our greatest challenge is that we intellectualize God. We allow him access to the mind, but steadfastly resist any approach by God to our emotions or our bodies. Why do we find it difficult to express ourselves with our emotions and bodies in worship? When sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, so did embarrassment, self-consciousness, wrong kinds of self-awareness, lust, and so on. When Jesus died on the cross, he died for the shame which put us in bondage to self-consciousness. Only through him can we experience total freedom in our emotions and bodies.
William Temple, the great Anglican theologian, said, ‘Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose’, and I would add ‘and the surrender of our bodies to his total freedom’.
We are the ones who prevent God working in his wholeness in us. True worship can only take place when we agree to God sitting not only on his throne in the centre of the universe but on the throne that stands in the centre of our heart.
The work of Christ in redemption has one great end – it is to save humanity and restore us to the joy of knowing true worship. Adam and Eve enjoyed that when they walked with God in the cool of the Garden before the Fall. Our major problem when it comes to worship is our sinful self-centeredness. Sin consists in maintaining self in the centre of our lives, the place that God actually reserves for himself. When God no longer occupies the centre of our being, then we become the centre – we become god! And that other god is called ‘I’.
Invaded by God
Unless the central core of our being is invaded by God and maintained by him, then there can be no proper object on which to focus our worship. Many of us are caught up in an inner fight with ourselves because we never understood that to become the person God wants us to be, we must stop fighting ourselves, and surrender to God. Then he can come in, take up his rightful place in the centre of our lives, and rule and reign as Lord. Unless we surrender totally to God then the inevitable result will be inner conflict and disharmony. Our human ego functions best when it functions in harmony with God, for, left to itself it becomes a dangerous and damaging force.
What does God require? The answer is quite simple, and yet so deeply profound – self-surrender. This is the joyful exchange of an egocentric, sinful self for a God-centred self made whole. It is in fact a swap – our life for his and his life for us.
Romans 12:1 says, ‘Therefore, I urge you … in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
We need to exercise our will in deciding to accept the freedom Jesus offers. He never makes us feel silly or proud. Satan’s insidious voice speaks to our fallen nature, the part that feels silly and proud. We need to resist him and claim our victory in Christ.
Then, when we learn to express ourselves to God, with body, emotions, mind, will and spirit, we will enjoy a continuing, freeing experience. We don’t stifle our emotions; then they don’t get bottled up inside. And we begin to gain more confidence. Our self-image benefits and we become more aware of others. Jesus takes us out of our self-awareness, and we reach out to others, to communicate with them and be more sensitive to them.
Remember that our healing starts with our personal time with the Lord. It’s there that we can be free with God alone and after spending time alone with him, we can become more free with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Both are essential to know complete healing. Worship then becomes our whole life, involving all our being.
Paul summarises this well in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, ‘May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(c) Healing in the Now, edited by John Blacker (1995), Australian Renewal Ministries, 1 Maxwell Court, Blackburn South, Victoria3130. Used with permission.
© Renewal Journal 6: Worship, 1995, 2nd edition 2011
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