This week I happened upon a definition of worship by Archbishop William Temple. Temple served as the Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II. He defines worship as follows: “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the 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—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”
I hope you’ll take a moment to re-read that definition and ponder the significance of the individual phrases. Worship involves the complete submission of our nature to God. It’s recognizing His supremacy and our unworthiness. In worship we allow His holiness to direct our moral compasses and instruct our conscience about matters of right and wrong. The spiritual food we need for nourishment we find as we reverently allow God to speak His truth into our hearts and minds in worship. The contemplation of the beauty of God’s creation certainly stirs up our imaginations as we seek words capable of expressing His grandeur and majesty. As we open our hearts to His love in worship, we find John’s words to be true—“We love Him because He first loved us.” In worship we come to recognize that God’s will for our lives is always better than any alternative that we could devise and we surrender our wills to His.
Finally, the quote identifies adoration as the most selfless emotion our nature is capable of producing. When we adore God in spirit and in truth as Jesus urged (Jn. 4:23-24), we empty ourselves of self and are filled with His Holy Spirit, enabling us to render to God the worship of which He alone is worthy.