• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

the Dance

Today’s post comes from Kevin in the US office.

The first chapter of the King’s Cross, “The Dance”, is really about identity.  Jesus is referred to as “the Christ” and the “Son of God” in the first part of the Gospel of Mark, and Keller’s develops this further.  But he connects the Trinity’s love and submission to a “dance.”

Dancing.  Ugh.  I.  Don’t.  Dance.

I know dance is a metaphor used by CS Lewis and others, but it’s a tough one for me.  I just don’t get dancing.  I once saw the play “Cats” in London, and that set back my appreciation of dance even further.  I didn’t know what they were doing or were trying to communicate.   I just don’t understand dancing, and part of that is because I can’t do it.  There is nothing in me that screams–or even whispers–dance.   If there was a dance contest, and the contestants were me, a crazed elephant, and a piece of furniture, I’d come in third.  Not even close.

But this dance Keller is talking about is reality–the “really” real.  This reality is God Himself.  He’s completely unified, He’s totally self-sustained, and He’s resoundingly happy and content in Himself.  And this triune God, in love and service to each of the Godhead, can dance together in joy and complete harmony.

Matt Chandler’s new book Explicit Gospel really develops the God-centeredness of the Gospel as he reminds us of God’s self-sufficiency: “I’m not served by human hands as though I need anything” (Acts 17:25).  He created us for His glory.  His identity is in Himself.  Our identity should be in Him.

Did you get that?!  We were created to join Him!  The God of all creation, Who is thoroughly content in His Own identity, is reaching out to us–to me!–to join in this dance.

The challenge is for my self-absorbed brain to break away from my selfishness long enough to see and understand His love.  When things don’t go my way here on earth, I’m prone to ask the me-focused question, “Why me?!”  My identity somehow drifts into me, my circumstances, my dreams, etc.  However, if I really understand God, and if I’m truly amazed by Who He is and what He has done, then I would live a life full of devotion, focused on Him.  I’m asked to join Him in this dance, ignore my inhibitions and ignorance, and humbly ask, as I dance with my Savior, “Why me?!”  I don’t deserve the opportunity to join in the dance, but that’s just it.  It’s all about Him inviting me, not what I deserve.

It’s really about identity–what His is, and what mine should be.  He’s already dancing, and somehow I can awkwardly join Him.  Amazing.

reflection question: how does self centered talk or living keep you from ‘joining in the dance’ with God?

10 Responses

  1. I think my tendency is to live more like an orphan than a child of God, brother of Jesus. In my self-centered world I’m more the victim of circumstances and overwhelmed by my long list of things for which I’m responsible, than I am a child dancing together with my true family.

    I’m also reminded of how Tom Bombadil and his wife “danced” together to accomplish their daily work with joy, whistling and singing in his yellow boots! 🙂 Their carefree-ness seems the opposite of my feeling overwhelmed at times!

    Will I shift my heart from seeking approval for what I have accomplished, or accepting my approval in Jesus Christ offered my by my heavenly Father? While I clearly prefer the second option, I too often slip back into the first.

    • Thanks for sharing. Here’s a thought, or rather another question: if I shift my heart from seeking approval for what I have accomplished, to accepting my approval in Jesus Christ offered my by my heavenly Father, how will this motivate me, free me or graciously move me to enter the work I should be doing?

      It’s another of asking the relationship between being and doing.

      • Great question David! This question gets to the heart of the issue.

        Theologically I have this view point, but I also slip back far too often into the old habitual thought patterns that are contrary to grace and the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness.

      • Thanks Ed for joining your voice to this discussion. So good to have feedback from a variety of members in the WT community.

  2. In the words of famous theologians, the band Cheap Trick: “I want you to want me, I need you to need me…”

    We as human beings want to be wanted, need to be needed.

    And as Kevin discusses, in our self-absorption we’re often prone to think God created us because he needs us. But Keller says just the opposite: “So why would he create us? He must have created us not to GET joy but to GIVE it.”

    I think the missions world is especially prone to believing God needs us. Our mobilization campaigns are often focused on “the need.” I’m not denying a need exists, nor am I negating the fact that God chooses to use his people to spread his message.

    But let’s not think too much of ourselves here. Just as we Americans are often taught by other cultures about the importance of relationship over task, the primary focus of our work should not be the task we’re completing for the Lord but the deepening of our relationship with him.

    In the midst of multiplying communities of believers, if our joy in him isn’t deepening, we’re missing something.The task has ultimately become self-centered.

    • Good word. I wouldn’t restrict the development need of task to community to only Americans. Almost all western cultures fall into this struggle. Also, the two are intricately intertwined which means that as our joy grows so does our desire to engage in the task. However, we engage from a totally different base other than selfishness.

  3. I was reading a book by David Benner (Surrender to Love) at the same time as this book. There are a lot of parallels in the two books. In it Benner quotes St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Sin is unwillingness to trust that what God wants is our deepest happiness. Until I am absolutely convinced of this I will do everything I can to keep my hands on the controls of my life, because I think I know better than God what I need for my fulfillment.”

    If I’m invited to ‘dance’ with Christ I really need to trust that it is because He takes pleasure in inviting me. Sometimes I feel like I’m a one of those guys on the tarmac directing planes as they land. All the things that demand my attention don’t give me time to stop and reflect, much less meditate on what God is up to. Another author used that analogy and reminded me that we can take joy in the busy-ness. As we direct the planes to the ground we can rejoice at each landing and swing around to greet the next one. He also called this the dance of thankfulness for all that God is doing and in all that He is inviting me to take part.

    I can get frantic when I think too much of myself and my ability to get the job done well. Is God inviting me to dance with HIm to test my ability on the dance floor. Wait, was it two steps to the left first or one to the right? It really ruins that dance when the other person is not so concerned with the perfection that I am seeking. If St. Ignatius is right, then I need to relax and let Him lead.

    Actually I do have a couple of dance moves that I’m reserving for a very special occasion. Ha. All this talk is really making me want to see Kevin dance.

    • ‘Letting the other lead’ — great thought, Barry. We sometimes think we need to assume God’s role and ‘lead’ Him as to what is most important in the dance. Loved the analogy of the guy directing planes landing.

  4. Dancing really resonates with me. I love to dance. My favorite picture of heaven and the thing I long for is the opportunity to dance around the throne. Perfectly and without ever getting tired. The Lord continually giving to me and, through my dance, giving back to Him.

    Dancing here on earth, well, that is a different story. Just a couple of weeks ago I was on a cruise. Rich and I were sitting in a lounge listening to a Frank Sinatra type of band. The setting was so romantic. It was just Rich, the music, the ocean, and me. He stood up and asked me to dance. The first thing I did was look around at all the people both sitting and dancing. At that point, there was no way I was going subject myself to their criticism. My focus changed from taking in the moment as a memorable gift to obsessing about how I would be perceived by others.

    It makes me sad when I think about how often I hold myself back from doing the things that will glorify Him just because I allow fear and self absorption to have dominion over me.

    • The perception of others can be such a hindrance to our walk with the Father as well as our work for the Father. Stepping out to do something new may not be what everyone else thinks we should, but the Father calls/invites us to the dance, and we should seize the moment.

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