AW Tozer – Only Mankind has a Capacity for Worship
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
There are many currents in our culture that seek to raise the value of non-human forms of life. Sometimes this line of thought desires that we place a value on all life equally. We are told that the whales, or the owls, or even our pet dogs deserve to be considered as valuable as any human being (and maybe more so!). Mankind, in the extreme views, is seen as a parasite that infects the earth.
Some elements of this thinking have taken on a life of their own. We can easily find them in the ever present fund-raising for various causes. Simply type the words “save the” in a Google search, and on the very first page of results one will be encouraged to save the frogs, the manatees, the whales and the elephants!
We have also experienced this heightened sense of awareness for our “animal friends” in the personification of animals in cartoons for many years, and more recently we are even confronted with living, breathing, talking fruits and vegetables.
It is with these things in mind that we turn to the words of A.W. Tozer:
The one mark which forever distinguishes man from all other forms of life on earth is that he is a worshiper: he has a bent toward and a capacity for worship.1
Mankind is different. We are different because of our response to the Creator. Certainly we know that all of creation declares the glory of God and worships Him. We learn as much in Psalm 19, as well as other passages of Scripture. However, only man responds to his Creator willfully to worship. And, in the negative, some of our fellow human beings also respond willfully to deny Him the worship that is due. This is the uniqueness of mankind.
Tozer goes on:
Apart from his position as a worshiper of God, man has no sure key to his own being; he is but a higher animal, being born much as any other animal, going through the cycle of his life here on earth and dying at last without knowing what the whole thing is about.
If that is all for him, if he has no more reason than the beasts for living, then it is an odd thing indeed that he is the only one of the animals that worries about himself, that wonders, that asks questions of the universe.
The very fact that he does these things tells the wise man that somewhere there is One to whom he owes allegiance. One before whom he should kneel and do homage.
This is a wonderful and fulfilling realization. Mankind is the only self-realized being on the earth. This is, in part, what the founding Fathers of America meant by some things that were “self-evident.” Man’s awareness of himself leads him to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In fact, these men saw this as truth that was self-evident. It would certainly be an odd thing to say that a dog thinks of himself in a certain way, like we might say about ourselves and our own self-learning. But man clearly thinks of himself, how he can improve, what he can own and care for, and what the meaning of life truly is.
And Tozer points out that a man who is wise will notice these things about himself and realize there is Something greater than self to which he owes his allegiance. This realization puts us into the perspective amongst all of life that we see around us. Thus we note the foolishness of the man that places himself at the forefront of his own allegiance, dethroning the Creator from His rightful position.
The Christian revelation tells us that that One is God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, who is to be worshiped in the Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
That is enough for us. Without trying to reason it out we may proceed from there.
And proceed from there we must. It reminds us of Saint Anselm’s great dictum, falling in step with Augustine, “I believe in order that I may understand.” This is a reasonable and fair place to begin our worship. Our faith and our reason are complementary to one another, not in opposition. And both our faith and our reason confirm that mankind is different than all other living things. It is because of this realization that we are prompted toward the worship of God out of the depths of our being.
Before we finish, let me revisit my opening comments about frogs, manatees, whales and elephants – along with the talking vegetables. We are reminded by Tozer’s comments that men and women are created differently – in the very image of God! In being aware of this difference, we are also responsible for all living beings that are otherwise created.
God’s image in man includes the responsibility to care for the world around him. Kind and humane treatment of the animal kingdom is a necessary and important part of the cultural mandate. So as we seek to do so, we may choose to support some causes that care for this part of God’s creative work. We may do the same in ways that support farming, healthy crops, and educating people around the world on how to grow food in a sustainable manner.
We also want to be creative in our communication efforts and education. So, the use of personification in artistic endeavors is an effective tool that can break down barriers to help a message get to those who need to hear it. Our concern here has been that the message be one that is consistent within a biblical worldview – that mankind is significantly different and of the highest value within the created realm.
*All quotes from “Renewed Day by Day: A Daily Devotional” by A.W. Tozer, compiled by G.B. Smith (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1980).
(Original Post on May 22, 2013 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/19765-only-mankind-has-a-capacity-for-worship)
Posted on January 20, 2014, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, theology, Worship Leader and tagged Mark Sooy, theology, Tozer, worship, WorshipThink. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.