The following is a chapter from our forthcoming 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed. It is as yet unedited; we have forty chapters that explore dimensions of the Jesus Creed in the Gospels and the early Christian leaders.
The Divine Dance
“The Father and I are one.
Believe [my] works,
so that you may know and understand that
the Father is in me
and I am in the Father.”
John 10:30, 38
When we love we join the dance of God’s own love.
Once Kris persuaded me to take dance lessons. To be sure, some might not call “disco lessons” real dance lessons but it was the days of Saturday Night Fever and I went along with her idea and did my best. It became rather obvious that I simply could not dance so Kris quit trying to persuade me and I was quite happy to return to my old ways of watching others dance. I do marvel at how well some people can dance, whether it is to disco or classical or rock. Their entire body seems to be overwhelmed by the music and the beat and the meaning of the words. Somehow the body moves in such a way that the music begins to take on bodily form.
God is love. The music of God is love – and the music of God creates a dance within the Trinity that was going on well before creation and is the music of creation now and will establish endless perfect motion in eternity. God’s dance of love is the only dance there is. Anyone who loves God and loves others is dancing, whether he or she knows it or not, to the divine dance. To love is to walk onto the divine dance floor.
It takes three to dance divinely
At the bottom of the Jesus Creed is the Shema and at the bottom of the Shema is the word “one” – and that word “one” is a dance. Let me explain briefly. When Jesus said that he and the Father were “one” in John’s tenth chapter, every Jew who heard him thought of the Shema: “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God. The Lord is one.” Now Jesus was claiming that he and the Father were one.
How so? Here are Jesus’ own words: “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” The oneness of the Father and the Son is the oneness of mutual indwelling of one another. Now, if we add to the Father and the Son the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, we arrive at something distinct to our Christian faith: the Father and the Son and the Spirit are one because they indwell one another, they interpenetrate one another so deeply that they are one. This “oneness” is the dance I am referring to.
Theologians call this mutual indwelling the perichoresis, the dance of the Trinity. This perichoretic dance is the love of the persons of the Trinity for each other – the Father for the Son and the Spirit, and the Son for the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit for the Father and the Son. Theologians and philosophers reminds us that this perichoretic love is the origin of all the love in the universe, the tone for all the love in the universe, and the standard for all the love in the universe. There is no other love than God’s love.
Get up out of your seat and start dancing
So when Jesus calls us to love God and to love others, he invites us to join him in the divine dance of the Trinity. Perhaps the greatest news in the universe is that we have been invited to dance on God’s dance floor. We don’t have to worry about whether or not someone will invite us to this dance; we don’t even have to worry about who we might dance with. The only dance in town is God’s dance and we are promised God will show up to the dance.
Love isn’t something we produce. Love, like dancing, is surrendering to the music on the divine dance floor. We may need to remind ourselves of the words from the previous chapter: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16). The gospel invites us to God’s dance floor and the moment we step onto that floor, we enter into that perichoretic indwelling – we enter into God and we begin to abide in the God who delightfully and perfectly engages in a community of pure love.
Facing this day: Join the dance of God today.
Scripture focus: John 10:38: “But if I do [these good works], even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”