William Temple on Worship

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjdjdIftplc] Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus famously said “Every definition is dangerous.” When we try to explain and define a word, we precisely end up missing some important aspects of the word we’re defining. One of the words people interpret in myriad ways is “worship.” Check out the clip above in which a man randomly asks people around on their definition of worship. It’s interesting to see the diversity of definitions on this. 

As a Christian, we are prone to think of worship as tantamount to singing. Singing is a form of worship as the word literally means to “bow down before someone.” Worship, however, goes way beyond that. It goes to “what” do I bow to.  For some of us, we really do worship ourselves because we just surrender to our feelings, our desires, and pleasures. For others, we worship popularity and bow down to people and what they want. But, God says I want you to be your first allegiance. In essence, worship means to surrender ourselves to God, to live for the Audience of One. I came across a William Temple’s definition on worship, the brilliant Archbishop of Canterbury who exquisitely illustrates this term. 

“Worship is the submission of all our 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 beauty;

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.”

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury