Dr AW Tozer was born in 1897 and brought up in rural Pennsylvania. He became a Christian at 18, and later served as pastor of the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago. A regular conference speaker of his time, his writings have been published in many books and pamphlets. He is perhaps best known for his emphasis on worship, and for describing worship as “the missing jewel of the evangelical church.”
This is the first of what I hope will be a short series of blogs offering a helpful look at a few of Tozer’s quotes. Although written mostly 60 to 100 years ago, many of his writings are as relevant today as when he wrote them. Inasmuch as they inspire us to think more highly of our God, I trust they will encourage you in your worship leading.
The Christian conception of God … is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.
With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.Dr AW Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, Christian Publications Inc, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Now I do believe that the last 50 years have seen considerable change in the area of worship, and that in many ways the missing jewel has been rediscovered. If you want a thorough outline of the people and movements that have shaped these changes, I recommend Les Moir’s book Missing Jewel. However, two things in this Tozer quote still challenge us today.
The first is the call to recognise the majesty, the greatness and the glory of our God. Too many modern worship songs have emphasised our friendship with God, the intimacy He offers, our acceptance, our adoption, and our freedom. All these things are true and real, but must be held in tension with the awesome grandeur, the glorious, almost indescribable, majesty of our God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. The bigger our vision of God is, and the greater the depth and breadth of our worship, then the more our lives will reflect and communicate His love to the dead world around us.
The second is what Tozer calls “our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence”. We have multiple Bible translations at the press of a button, we can access millions of worship songs at any moment, we have a huge choice of inspirational notes and books to help us, in short we have every means of help to worship, study and pray constantly available. But are we able to withdraw to a private place with the Father, as Jesus did? Are we able to put aside all distractions and simply commune with our God? Can we express our love and admiration to Him in our own words, from the heart, in a pure and godly silence?
Honestly speaking, I often struggle with both these things, but I long for a deeper, fuller, higher vision of God. And I yearn for a greater depth of personal worship, helped by the tools and the technology, but ultimately involving just my Lord and myself.