Worship–being united with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit–is coming together into community with the triune God. Some have described it as coming into the throne room of the living God in all its unutterable glory. Abraham, before he took Issac to the place where he thought he would have to murder him, told his servants he was going to “worship” (Gen 22:5). In our grand theological strategy, we are waiting to breathe a sigh of relief because we know how the story ends. After you have heard the story once, you are no longer bated breathless until the end of the story when God finally does come through. Hearing the story as a young child is detrimental because it normalizes the idea that God wants us to kill children–it makes God ordinary. There is nothing ordinary about killing children, and there is nothing ordinary about the obedience of Abraham.
In fact, we would put God in jail for such a crime today. God would not be an object of worship, but an object of perverted shame. God would never ask us to kill our children for his name, or would he? How do we so totally abandon ourselves to the almighty God that our children are but sacrifices for his name’s sake? The worship of God is not primarily an experience as it is a choice. When people are confronted with the divine, they are not often given much choice in the matter–Moses was told to go to Israel, Abraham was told to kill his child, Joshua was told to march around Jericho and told to destroy woman and children. Shouldn’t God give us more choice?
Worship happens in our lives when we are floored by God. For instance, when the Israelites finally realize that God cares about their misery, they worship the Lord (Exodus 4:31). When one reads through the plagues of Egypt, one realizes that God sent them to show his divine power–a power worthy of worship for both the Israelites and the Egyptians. Joshua, in one of his greatest speeches, is adamant that the people of God throw away in other idol in their lives that their forefathers worshiped “beyond the river” (Joshua 24). They must either worship the gods of Egypt–whose names have been bloodied by the river Nile and killed by the God of Israel–or worship the God of Israel.
Worship is a choice to either obey or disobey God. This is why worship starts with entering into communion and solitude within the community of the triune God. We enter into the throne-room with all its unadulterated glory, but this is not worship. The throneroom is beauty and the Lord is majestic, but worship is prostrating ourselves as Isaiah did being willing to be sent (Isaiah 6). To be sent is to be the church. We can only be the church in as much as we have interacted with and understood the will of the divine. If we have not understood the volition of God–the very things that he wants for the world–we cannot call them into existence by his powerful word and Spirit.
Worship is a choice a person makes when they are met face to face with Yahweh himself to obey.