More to it than meets the eye

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by Major Terry Camsey –

Beryl and I were driving down this country road a few weeks ago and immediately in front of us was one of those popular four-wheel drive recreational vehicles. Nothing unusual in that, you are thinking. Read on!…

The driver raised his right arm to heaven, hand open, palm up. “He’s worshiping,” I said to Beryl and we were not surprised for it was a beautiful, crystal-clear sunny day.

Then he raised the other arm in similar fashion. “I hope he hasn’t closed his eyes to pray,” said Beryl!

It set me thinking because the Army, as many other denominations, is thinking a lot about worship these days, something that Dr. A. W. Tozer referred to as the “lost jewel of the evangelical church.”

At the International Growth Seminar held in the UK a few years ago, one of our prominent, high ranking officers presented a paper on worship. I asked him afterwards which meeting he was referring to as the worship meeting…the holiness meeting?…salvation meeting?…praise meeting? (assuming that praise meetings are held anywhere any more). I never did get an answer.

We long for authentic worship, but are we sure we know what it is? Do we, perhaps, confuse worship catalysts with worship itself? Singing helps to release worship, but it is not worship. Praise is about what God has done, worship is concerned with who God is. These things may be helpful to worship but, when you think about it, each can be performed without any worship taking place. We can worship, but we do not “do” worship. No one can worship for another since worship by its very nature calls for the personal involvement of a worshiper.

Judson Cornwall (“Elements of Worship”) suggests that “it often happens that the very activity that is designed to bring us into a worship experience prevents true worship by drawing attention away from God rather than to God… worship is not a spectator sport; it is a participating response to the Presence of God.”

Captain Len Ballantine wrote a few years ago of an experience in a music camp where the students were encouraged to make music for an audience of One…God. The reality is that, in worship, God is the audience. He is the sole audience. Everyone in the congregation should be a participant and the role of the leaders (especially worship leaders) is to lead the worshipers into the presence of God. A far cry from singing a few choruses, seeking and accepting applause that rightfully belongs to God, the giver of the gift. We need to be aware, too, that worship ­ as Terry Wardle put it ­ is spiritual warfare because Satan, unable to get the glory for himself, will try (and does try) with all his might to prevent God from getting it.

Then, too, there are requirements of purity if we are to enter the Holy place…clean hands, pure hearts…Psalms 15 and 24 set out the qualifications. Not all can come into the Holy of Holies without “coming clean.”

So, we ­ like the driver of the sports vehicle ­ can raise our hands, and close our eyes and enjoy the music. But unless we are personally involved in ascribing worth (worthship) to God, we are not worshiping.

Don’t you just long for someone to take you by the hand and ­ having already found the way into the presence of God ­ lead you there, too.

Worship. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

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