FATHER’S SONG (13): Dancing Together As One (Paul & NT Letters)

DancingJesus lived his entire life completely swept up in the rhythms of The Father’s Song. Remember that in the very beginning, before the creation of the world, all that existed was the eternal dance of the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoying pure, self-giving, mutual joy and love between their three eternally distinct persons.

This is a mystery for sure. But when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) we were given a glimpse of what it looks like when a human being lives in perfect oneness with the Triune Godhead. This is the One who said: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19).

The Bible defines “sin” using an old archery term (Geek harmartia) which means to “miss the target.” Borrowing from the world of music, sin is then “singing out of key” or “playing out of tune.” Every single word and deed of Jesus’ life was right on target, with perfect pitch and totally in tune with the Father.

Before Jesus left this earth to return to the Father he prayed a most majestic prayer on behalf of his followers. His famous prayer is recorded in John 17:

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17: 20-23).

No image better captures the essence of Jesus’ prayer for his followers than a DANCE. Jesus prays for unity and oneness. “I in them and you in me”, “that they may be one as we are one”, “just as you are in me and I am in you” and so on.

The complete unity with the Father and Spirit that the obedient Son of God demonstrated is to be our model for our lives with others. We are to dance in perfect unity, in perfect stride with the Father and to the God-beat of the Kingdom dance Jesus’ taught us. As we achieve this God-empowered, Spirit-led unity with one another and God the onlooking world will believe and join in the Dance.

A point that must be underscored here is that the Christian life is a communal life.  The Christian experience is a shared experience. The Father’s Song can only be sang in a choir of unified voices and the Kingdom dance can only be danced with other partners. The Bible leaves no trace of a private faith or lone-ranger Christian life.  Just as one person cannot sing a duet, so also a lone Christian cannot perform the Father’s Song by him or herself.

The Apostle Paul captures this goal of unified interdependency in his image of the human body:

By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything…The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t.” (1 Cor 12 The Message)

This profound truth — that central to our public witness for reaching others with the gospel of salvation and restoration is the unity we share — amplifies the deep sadness we should feel about all of the infighting and division present within God’s universal Church. There is nothing more grievous among Christians than division among brothers and sisters within the Body.

That’s why there is also nothing more admirable and Christlike than when people seek forgiveness and reconciliation with one another. This, too, displays the beauty of The Father’s Song to the onlooking world.  The sounds of healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and love toward those who have wronged us is rare in the world, and there is no sweeter note or a more compelling lyric in all The Father’s Song.

So, we see here in Jesus’ prayer and the community-centered writings of Paul and the other New Testament Letters that The Father’s Song is a corporate experience aimed at inviting more and more participants into the dance of divine grace, learning how to live together in redemptive community.

James’ epistle helps believers overcome petty quarrels and sharp tongues in order to live more wisely and compassionately with fellow believers. Peter’s epistles encourage believers to keep singing songs of hope in times of darkness, pain, persecution and suffering. Each of these faithful writers are chiefly concerned with the sound of the whole band, making ample allowances for individual members who each in their turn miss a note now and again.

But with God’s endless patience and ever flowing river of grace, these New Testament writers are slowly helping the church become a choir capable of singing a “stunning anthem” to God. In Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Paul:

“May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” (Romans 15:3)

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