For the last two years, I have been gripped by the writings and sermons of G. Campbell Morgan, referred to as the prince of expositors, who died in 1945 after a distinguished career as a pastor in London. I am currently working my way through the 10-volume series of his sermons titled The Westminster Pulpit, having already read his commentaries on the Gospels and Acts. My approach to the New Testament will never be the same after having read Pastor Morgan's work and I pray my writing and teaching can have half the impact his had and continues to have. (You can read more about Pastor Morgan and his many books here.)
In Volume Two of The Westminster Pulpit, I read this sermon on worship in which Pastor Morgan referred to worship in church as secondary worship while living out one's purpose as the primary human worship expression. Of course, you know I had to share it (in part) with you. Here it is.
When does a man worship? A man worships when he is what God meant him to be. I may sing every song in the hymnbook and never worship. I may recite every creed that was ever prepared, and never worship. I may inflict all manner of scourging upon the body of mine and never worship. I may kneel in long lonely the vigils of the night and never worship; and the song, and the sacrifice, and the prayer are nothing unless I am, in this one lonely individual life of mine, what God Almighty meant me to be. When I am that, my whole life worships.
How can I be that? Only as I discover His law, only as I walk in His ways; and here is the difference between the flower and man. The supreme dignitary, the tremendous and overwhelming majesty of your life and mine is that of our power to choose, to elect, to decide, to will. Consequently, the worship of the soul that can choose and decide and elect and will is profounder, mightier, greater than any other worship could be. It is not in the antiphonal songs of choirs, or in the chanting of music to which we listen, or even in our own singing; it is in taking hold of our individual life, and the putting of it into such relationship with God that it becomes what he means it should be.
I do not worship God by going to China is a missionary. If God wants me to stay at home and do the work of a carpenter. I do not worship God by aspiring to some mighty and heroic thing for him if the capacity he has given me is for doing the quiet thing, and the simple thing, and the hidden thing, and the unknown thing. It would be very foolish for the hummingbird, instead of entering the tulip, to try to beat back the air and combat the eagle. It worships by staying where God puts it. It would be very wicked for the eagle to cultivate a mock modesty and say that it preferred to remain among the tulips when it ought to be soaring sunwards.
So that if I have spoken to you about the fact that God has foreordained works, that we should walk in them, I now remind you that if you worship when you find God’s appointment, and when you walk in the way God has appointed, you realize your own life. Worship consists in the finding of my own life, and the yielding of it wholly to God for the fulfillment of His purpose. That is worship! You say, would you tell us to find our life? Did not Jesus say we must lose it? Yes, “He that findeth life shall lose it,” but he did not finish there: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it,” not another life, not a new life, not a new order of life, not an angel’s life, for instance, but his own life. The Cross is necessary, restraint is necessary, sacrifice is necessary, self-denial is necessary; but these things are all preliminary, and when Paul describes the Christian life at its fullest, he does not say I am crucified. That is the wicket gate. That is the pathway that leads out. That is the beginning. “I have been crucified with Christ: yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is the son of God.”
Or again, he says, speaking of Christ himself, “It is Christ that died,” but that is not the last thing, nor the final thing, “yea rather, that was raised from the dead.” And so if the cross be absolutely necessary, and it is-your cross, my cross, my individual dying to the ambitions of selfish desire, all that is necessary; but beyond it, life. What life? My life. The new birth is, but the passing into the possibility of the first birth, the new creation is but the finding of the meaning of, and the fulfillment of the purposes of the first creation. “Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Discover His law. Answer His law. Walk in the way of His appointing. Let Him who made you lead out all the facts of your life to the fulfillment of His purpose, and then your whole life is worship.
Then, brethren, you will see that worship does not begin when you come here [to church]. This is a very valuable part of worship, but it is secondary worship, symbolic worship. This is the day in which we cease the worship that perfectly glorifies him in order that in song in praise and prayer. We may remind ourselves of the perpetual and unending truth that life lived within His will, and according to His law, the life of holiness is the beauty that glorifies God. This service is but a pause in which, in word and attitude we give expression to life’s inner song. And if there be no such inner song, there is no worship here. Worship is the perpetual poetry of divine power and divine love expressed in human life.
Angels worship not merely when veiling their faces, they sing of His holiness, but when ceasing their singing at His bidding. They fly to catch the live coal from the altar and touch the lips of a penitent soul who sighs. It is true “they also serve who only stand and wait.” But it is equally true that they also worship who serve, and serve perpetually. And it is in the service of a life, not specific acts done as apart from the life, not because I teach in the Sabbath school, or preach here, that I worship. I may preach here today, and never worship, but because my life is found in His law, he is answering His call, responsive to His provision and arrangement, so almost, without knowing it, my life is become a song, appraise, and anthem. So I worship! I join the Angels, and all nature, in worship when I become what God intends I should be and in the blossoming of His ideal. We sing the song of His greatness in His love.