(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Balliol College, University of Oxford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Temple was the 98th Archbishop of Canterbury, of the Church of England. He was a theologian and scholar and his definition of worship is one of the best I have ever seen. People seem to assume that worship is music, it isn’t. Music is a tool used in worship. It is an element of worship and it can be used to draw us into worship. I spend so much time calling this out, not because I dislike music. I love music, but I have seen so many churches splinter over style of worship and specifically style of music, that I feel the need to call this out. Worship is not about our preferences, it’s for an audience of One. Worship is for God. Yes it draws us to God. Yes there are styles that we enjoy more than others, but we should never let what we do for God to divide us. That strips away all the Worship in it and I believe breaks the heart of God. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love one another.” There’s no room for worship wars in that.

Instead, we should see worship as Temple defined it. I broke it down into bullet points to help us absorb it.

  • Worship is the submission of all 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 holiness;
  • the opening of the heart to His love;
  • the surrender of will to His purpose—
  • and all of this gathered up in adoration,
  • the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable,
  • and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.

Did you notice the final element of that related to self-centeredness? Demanding our preferences would qualify. Instead let’s return our focus to the true object of our worship. Matt Redman wrote a song called Heart of Worship about this very thing. Here is the background of the song.

By the way, this definition came from my reading of Heart of the Artist by Rory Noland

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