In jr. high, I loved to play “Kung Fu Master.” Actually, we called it “Spartan X” in Japan, where I was growing up. The mission was to defeat the bad guys through punches, kicks and jumps and rescue your love Sylvia. Since I didn’t have any other love in my life at the time (pre-Eunsil, of course!), I thought I might as well save Sylvia. The key to the game was to defeat the weaker bad guys on one level so that you can get upgraded to fight the bigger bad guys on the other levels. If you get beat on one level, you have to repeat that level before you go to the next level.
Similarly, God tests us on one level to upgrade us to the next level. In Genesis 22:1, “God tested Abraham” and called him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. After waiting twenty-five years for the birth of Isaac, this wonderful blessing and breakthrough leads to the surprising test to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Why would God ask for such a difficult thing? Abraham clearly sees his obedience as “worship” (Gen 22:5), trusting that “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” (22:8). Abraham’s obedience demonstrates his fear of God (22:12) and realization that “the Lord will provide” (22:14). What is at stake is not simply an ethical question of what is “right” or “wrong” in this situation; God’s own character is at stake, and Abraham obeys trusting that “God will provide for himself.”
Obedience is worship. We often equate worship with raised hands, closed eyes and a fire in our hearts, but obedience is worship. Worship is not about how we feel but about who God is. As we step forward in obedience, we experience His power and glory upon us. Peter reminds us:
1Pet. 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Our tests are an opportunity for our upgrade! As we respond in faithful (and often painful) obedience in God’s tests, then He pours out more of His glory in and through us. Therefore, we rejoice in our tests as opportunities for more of His glory to be revealed.