The Treasure of the Trinity – “The Divine Dance”
Welcome marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and being-a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax. Let’s feast.
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
Here’s a Very Basic Kind of Question for You:
“Do You LOVE to Dance?”
“Do You Dance Like There’s No One Looking?”
“Do You Dance When You Have To? Or Do You Intentionally Look for the Chance to Dance Out Loud?”
“Or… Do You Dread Like a Root Canal When Your Forced Onto the Floor to Shake, Swing, or Box Step?”
Even though you might not sense questions of this kind about one’s dance habits are tied to one’s faith in God and living out a life that reflects it in all realms of life, when it comes to seeing The Trinity as The Divine Dance–and faithfully, joyfully living as if it’s true truth–is connected: the music and movement of joy spills over and just can’t be contained!
First of all: know that this Training Table bookend on The Trinity is based upon Pastor Tim Keller’s sermon on The Trinity [as The Divine Dance] which can be accessed via the above link.
Secondly: please take note of two planks of Pastor Keller’s offering: a) What is meant by “The Trinity as The Divine Dance” [CS Lewis and Cornelius Plantinga] and b) how we are called to live it out [borrowed from Jonathan Edwards].
a) “The trinity means that God is, in essence, relational. The gospel writer John describes the Son as living from all eternity in the “bosom of the Father” (John 1:18), an ancient metaphor for love and intimacy. Later in John’s gospel, Jesus, the Son, describes the Spirit as living to “glorify” him (John 16:4). In turn, the Son glorifies the Father (17:4) and the Father, the Son (17:5). This has been going on for all eternity (17:5b).
What does the term “glorify” mean? To glorify something or someone is to praise, enjoy, and delight in them. When something is useful you are attracted to it for what it can bring you or do for you. But if it is beautiful, then you enjoy it simply for what it is. Just being in its presence is its own reward. To glorify someone is also to serve or defer to him or her. Instead of sacrificing their interests to make yourself happy, you sacrifice your interests to make them happy. Why? Your ultimate joy is to see them in joy.
…When we delight and serve someone else, we enter into a dynamic orbit around him or her, we center on the interests and desires on the other. That creates a dance, particularly if there are three persons, each of whom moves around the other two. So it is, the Bible tells us. Each of the divine persons centers upon the others. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to, and rejoices in the others. That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love. The early leaders of the Greek church had a word for this—perichoresis. Notice our word “choreography” within it. It means literally to “dance or flow around.”(1)
The Father…Son…and Holy Spirit glorify each other…At the center of the universe, self-giving love is the dynamic currency of the Trinitarian life of God. The persons within God exalt, commune with, and defer to one another….When early Greek Christians spoke of perichoresis in God they meant that each divine person harbors the others at the center of his being. In constant movement of overture and acceptance each person envelops and encircles the others.(2)
In Christianity God is not an impersonal thing nor a static thing—not even just one person—but a dynamic pulsating activity, a life, a kind of drama, almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance… [The] pattern of this three-personal life is…the great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very center of reality. And now, what does it all matter? It matters more than anything else in the world. The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us: or (putting it the other way round) each one of us has got to enter that pattern, take his place in that dance. There is no other way to the happiness for which we were made.(3)
…Ultimate reality is a community of persons who know and love one another…When Jesus said you must lose yourself in service to find yourself (Mark 8:35), he was recounting what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been doing throughout eternity…Unless you are willing to experience the loss of options and the individual limitation that comes from being in committed relationships, you will remain out of touch with your own nature and the nature of things.
[It is] impossible to stay fully human if you refuse the cost of forgiveness, the substitutional exchange of love, and the confinements of community. I quoted C.S. Lewis saying that the only place besides heaven that is free from the pain and suffering of relationships is hell…
God is infinitely happy, because there is an “other-orientation” at the heart of his being, because he does not seek his own glory but the glory of others. (4)
…He wants our joy! He has infinite happiness not through self-centeredness, but through self-giving, other-centered love. And the only way we, who have been created in his image, can have this same joy, is if we center our entire lives around him instead of ourselves…God’s joy and happiness and delight in divine perfections is expressed externally by communicating that happiness and delight to created beings…The universe is an explosion of God’s glory. Perfect goodness, beauty, and love radiate from God and draw creatures to ever increasingly share in the Godhead’s joy and delight…The ultimate end of creation, then, is union in love between God and loving creatures. (5)
…We were made to center our lives upon him, to make the purpose and passion of our lives knowing, serving, delighting, and resembling him. This growth in happiness will go on eternally, increasing unimaginably (1 Corinthians 2:7-10).
This leads to a uniquely positive view of the material world…The universe is understood as a dance of being united by energies binding yet distinct, like planets orbiting stars, like tides and seasons, “like atoms in a molecule, like tones in a chord, like the living organisms on this earth, like the mother with the baby stirring in your body.” (6) The love of the inner life of the Trinity is written all through it. Creation is a dance!” (Pastor Tim Keller, Sermon, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, Jan 15, 2006)
1. Hilary of Poiteries, in Concerning the Trinity, and Robert Letham on Tom Torrance: The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship.
2. Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning, and Living.
3. C.S. Lewis, “The Good Infection,” in Mere Christianity.
4. G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
5. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life.
6. Debra Rienstra, So Much More.
b) The “how” of moving out of the position of a “wallflower” at the dance, or a static fixture insisting upon everyone orbiting around ME is contained by Keller via Jonathan Edwards’ nomenclature of the Christian life as one of Beauty and Duty. Listen and live well!
Choose This Day: “Wallflower? Center of the Universe? or Blissful, Inviting Dancer?”
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.” (William W. Purkey)