Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

40 Days Living the Jesus Creed

posted by xscot mcknight

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.”

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Ted M. Gossard

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:24 am

I need to hear this tonight, and I need to join in again. I can get so distracted by dissonant noises or distractions elsewhere, and lose out on hearing the music and joining in the dance.
(it would be interesting to see how this ends up getting edited; good stuff, Scot)

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Bob Robinson

posted September 6, 2007 at 7:13 am

Great stuff. Thanks for this.
You should have named the book, “40 Days of Purpose, Living the Jesus Creed.” You might sell more that way…

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posted September 6, 2007 at 7:33 am

Good stuff, brother.
I once used dancing as a spontaneous illustration at a retreat with young adults. I was teaching through the fruit of the Spirit. And when I got to Galatians 5:25, we read, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (I know it’s not a pure translation of the Greek) I don’t normally study in the NIV, but I was using it because most of these young men and women were reading from it.
But my point was that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit of God is not something we just get on the first try. We’ll probably step on His toes a few times. But He is a gentle, patient teacher. And if we keep at it, soon we will be so in step with Him that we will look like one unit out on the dance floor.
Anyway, yours is better since it is grounded in more study (mine was spontaneous) and yours is truer to the scriptures.
Looking forward to reading more.

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John W Frye

posted September 6, 2007 at 8:52 am

If this perichoretic vision of God with the interpenetration of joyful love were to catch on globally, this world would be a different place and the radical call “to dance” would replace the drum beat of war.
How about this title: “40 Ways to Dance with God and Others”

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jeremy bouma

posted September 6, 2007 at 9:17 am

Hi Scot,
It seems the dominate word here is JOIN. We join in with what God is doing in the world, we join in with God’s love for Creation, we join in with the Holy Father-Son-Spirit Dance that has been ongoing since creation.
Rather than God giving us some sort of PURPOSE for us, we join in with God’s. Sounds much better than another “40 day” book I know of…

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posted September 6, 2007 at 9:47 am

I like this very much but I am having a little bit of a disconnect between you rejecting dancing to stand on the sidelines and the need to participate in the dance of the trinity. The two stories don’t seem to quite line up. If to love is to walk on the divine dance floor, shouldn’t your story say that you, maybe out of love for Kris, walked out on that disco dance floor, even if it felt uncomfortable? I know that’s not what happened, but can you see where it doesn’t quite, ok, forgive me, square for me?

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Scot McKnight

posted September 6, 2007 at 9:56 am

The disconnect is this:
I am marginalized by my inability to dance in reality, but I can join the dance of God!

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posted September 6, 2007 at 10:30 am

Just shoot me if I’m being annoying but why don’t you add the sentence “I am marginalized by my inability to dance in reality, but I can join the dance of God!” to end of your first section? (since this none of this has been edited yet). Right after “to love is to walk on the divine dance floor.” Or right before it.

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posted September 6, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Scot, is this what you will be covering tomorrow night in Dallas?

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posted September 6, 2007 at 12:41 pm

I liked very much what you wrote. Maybe something in the last couple of paragraphs in the direction of there is no skill needed for God’s dance or “We don’t have to worry about our level of competance and what others may think about us.” Still isn’t quite there, yet.
It made me think of Snoopy on Charlie Brown with his feet a-flappin’ while not caring what anybody else thinks or if anyone is dancin’ or even hears the music that he hears.
I’m looking forward to reading more.
In Christ,

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Scot McKnight

posted September 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm

In a word, “no.”

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posted September 6, 2007 at 3:52 pm

This is great…I think you need to make a link at your sidebar to “Perichoresis” and collect all the conversations we have had about this wonderful, mysterious dance there. Then, we’ll have a ready tool to help with this concept turns up (as it does so frequently) :)
I agree with Diane (#8) about adding the clarification for the connection…not what “we” are part of the “our” that is writing this book…. 8)

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Scot McKnight

posted September 6, 2007 at 4:34 pm

I’ve got Perichoresis in my “Bloglossary.”

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posted September 6, 2007 at 6:36 pm

Yes, I have seen it…but a definition doesn’t do justice to its depth and nuance and texture, IMO…
If, as John suggests in #4 above, we want this invitation to dance with God to take off, we’ll have to make the concept a little more approachable–the term itself does little to commend it, more’s the pity :(
Perhaps I’ll just have do some compilation on my own…when I have some free time 8) …don’t anybody hold their breath!

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posted September 6, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Bob says in #2:
You should have named the book, “40 Days of Purpose, Living the Jesus Creed.” You might sell more that way…
You might call this section: “Your Best Dance Now”. But seriously, I will take perichoresis over disco any day. Good stuff Scot.

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posted September 7, 2007 at 12:11 am

I had a Lutheran pastor 35 or so years ago who had a stole with Snoopy on one side and Charlie Brown on the other. One side said “to live is to dance,” the other side said “to dance is to live.” He may have been on to something. Scot, thanks for your insight and dedication.

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