I have been reading a wonderful little book written by A. W. Tozer. He is one of the greatest preachers we have been privileged to have among us. This great man of God died in 1963 but his words have a ring to them that will still be relevant many years from now if current trends continue. This man understood the magnitude of the Gospel as few others have been able to do and he also has a much deeper and more profound understanding of the nature of God than anyone I have ever read. I’m sure that there are many others who have deep revelations of our Heavenly Father, but I have read none who have the unique ability to put it all together for the reader to understand as much as A.W. Tozer was able to do.
The little book that I referred to above is entitled, The Knowledge of the Holy. I take the liberty of quoting a paragraph or two for the benefit of the readers of this column. Read this carefully. “True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time. The messenger of Christ, though he speaks for God, must also, as the Quakers used to say, ‘speak to the condition’ of his hearers; otherwise, he will speak a language known only to himself. His message must be not only timeless but timely. He must speak to his own generation.”
“The message of this book does not grow out of these times but it is appropriate to them. It is called forth by a condition which has existed in the Church for some years and is steadily growing worse. I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.”
“The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.”
Remember, this man died in 1963 and yet he saw things in the church, at that time, which have continued to manifest themselves while the Christian people have accepted those things and have included them in what they see as pure Christianity. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I agree with A.W. Tozer that our view of God has eroded. We will say that He is “high and lifted up” but we don’t act like it in the majority of our worship services today. The question arises: “What has happened to the Majesty of worship which is our expression of how we view God and how much we hold Him in awe.” In days gone by, when one entered a church for worship, the world was willingly left outside. The things that occupied our minds so much of the time were relegated to the back recesses of our thoughts so that we could focus upon God and honor Him as we should. It was a holy place. A quiet place. A place where lowly men honored the God of the universe and sought to commune with Him. The atmosphere in the sanctuary was different. Everything about it was different as we sought a higher plane and were eager to hear from God’s man in order to learn more about the One we were coming to exalt and worship. The worship we entered into affected everything about us. It affected our dress. It influenced our speech and bodily actions. It changed our attitudes. We were quieter, more reflective, more courteous, more careful about what we said and how we said it. All this was a reflection of awareness of the Majesty of God and it had an effect on everything about us. We knew where we were and we knew WHO we were coming to worship.
But, this writer would ask the question: Where is that majesty today? If A.W. Tozer could spot the problem, how much more should we be able to see it? The problem is that slowly but surely, the world has invaded the church is such a subtle way that we have lost the Majesty and don’t even know it. It happened rather slowly until the more recent days and since then the loss of the Majesty of worship has gained speed and rapidly increased. Worship was never meant to be “fun.” And when we see it as something fun and satisfying to our own whims, we have lowered worship to just another activity. The Majesty of worship will return when we return to a focus on the One being worshipped and not so much on ourselves. He is the one to be satisfied with our worship, not us. Somehow, we lose sight of Him when we focus on what we like about worship and how much we enjoy it because we think God is alright with what we do.
One other quote from Tozer’s book that I think will make a valid and sobering point. He said: “Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ means next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshipper in this middle period of the twentieth century (and if he saw it then, how much more should we see it today?)
There is much more that could be said on this subject but to elucidate it much more in a singular article would “overload your wagon” as the old timers would say. But suffice it to say that it is incumbent upon us to refocus our spiritual life to bring back the Majesty in worship that, in so many ways, is missing today.
Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 49 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 31 of those years. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com