I’m writing this from our ministry’s biannual staff conference in Colorado. One of my favorite things about these conferences is that we spend a large of amount of time every day in worship through music and/or prayer. I love how A. W. Tozer links the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry with our worship:
Why did Christ come? Why was He Conceived? Why was He born? Why was He crucified? Why did He rise again? Why is He now at the right hand of the Father? The answer to all these questions is, in order that He might make worshippers out of rebels; in order that He might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created. Now because we were created to worship, worship is the normal employment of moral beings.
A. W. Tozer, Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church
The phrase that blew me away was this: “in order that He might make worshippers out of rebels.” I had never thought about it this way before. What a wonderful way to summarize God’s purpose for His creation! As His child, all I do in both this life and the next is to be an act of worship to Him. And Jesus Great Commission to His church will be fulfilled in worship:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
-Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV)
My last new post was nearly a year ago at Easter, so it seems fitting to start posting again on Easter. It also seems fitting to restart this blog with a passage by the same author I quoted for my first post, A. W.Tozer. For the Easter season I started reading a new collection of his essays (previously published in other books) called The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ. In a chapter called “The Easter Emphasis” Tozer writes:
“Christ was born that He might become a man and became a man that He might give His life a ransom for many. Neither the birth nor the dying were ends in themselves. As He was born to die, so did He die that He might atone, and rise that He might justify freely all who take refuge in Him. His birth and His death are history. His appearance at the mercy seat is not history past, but a present, continuing fact, to the instructed Christian the most glorious fact his trusting heart can entertain…The glory of the Christian faith is that the Christ who died for our sins rose again for our justification. We should joyfully remember His birth and gratefully muse on His dying, but the crown of all our hopes is with Him at the Father’s right hand.”
Because Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, I can have absolute confidence that the Father accepted His sacrifice on my behalf and that I am forgiven and in right relationship with Him. His resurrection not only guarantees my future resurrection but provides new life for me right now. Christ is alive and actively working on my behalf right now. He is my “defense attorney” in the court of heaven, so I have no reason to fear the accusations of either the devil or my own overactive conscience (but I still do, more often than I like to admit – oh, me of little faith!). Jesus is representing me before the Father and interceding for me right now. Amazing! The Son of God Himself is praying for me at this very moment! Why do I forget that so often?
Father, please remind me of the significance of the resurrection not only this Easter, but throughout the year.
As a continuation from my last post, The Sacrament of Living, here is more of A. W. Tozer’s thinking on that topic. After the passage I quoted last time, he explains how difficult it will be to put this truth into practice. We’ll need to change a habitual thought pattern – and we all know how hard it is to break a bad habit! But beyond that, Satan will try to stop us, as he always does when someone wants to deepen their commitment to God. (Back to the “all of life is a battleground” side of the coin!) Tozer says:
We can meet this successfully only by the exercise of an aggressive faith. We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.
Sounds like hard work! But somehow, the thought of it makes me want to rise to the challenge, rather than feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because of the incredible results that Tozer describes in this summary at the end of the chapter:
It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act. All he does is good and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For such a man, living itself will be sacramental and the whole world a sanctuary. His entire life will be a priestly ministration. As he performs his never so simple task he will hear the voice of the seraphim saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.”
– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
One of the lessons I learned as a young believer was that everything I do can be an act of worship to the Lord. But to be honest, my heart attitude had fallen back into the old sacred-secular dichotomy: feeling that certain things (like ministry or bible study) are spiritual, but anything personal (like leisure or even housekeeping) is not.
A couple of months ago, my pastor spoke on spiritual warfare, and showed how Satan can take advantage of us when we think this way, because all of life can be a battleground. Then last week I read the last chapter of A. W. Tozer’s classic, The Pursuit of God, which describes this same false division between sacred and secular. It goes on to speak of what I see as the flip side of the coin: that all of life can be a sacrament.
Let us think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought. He is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; It is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament.
If a sacrament is an external expression of an inward grace then we need not hesitate to accept the above thesis. By one act of consecration of our total selves to God we can make every subsequent act express that consecration.
– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
I think what really hit home was that all my actions – all of them! – can be a sacred act, holy to the Lord. Being disciplined at duties like cleaning or doing laundry can be an outward expression of God’s grace at work within me. (That’s huge for me, because those of you who know me well know how messy my house usually is!) How I spend my leisure time can demonstrate my consecration to Christ. I haven’t been thinking like this, but I want to. I want to honor God with every action, not just the ones that I’ve thought of as “spiritual.” I want my whole life to be a sacrament.
Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, because life feels “crazy-busy” right now. In fact, I think this prayer by A. W. Tozer is exactly what I need to pray:
Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ?Speak, for thy servant heareth.? Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking Voice. Amen.
– A. W. Tozer, from The Pursuit of God