By Derl Keefer
Brian McLaren states, "In the early church, one of the most powerful images used for the Trinity was the image of a dance of mutual indwelling. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in an eternal, joyful, vibrant dance of love and honor, rhythm and harmony, grace and beauty, giving and receiving." He continues by contending, "The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God ó so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love vitality, harmony and celebration."
What an incredible relationship that God has offered to humans. God invites us to the dance of the celebration of life! But something drastically happened. According to McLaren we broke with the dance. He writes, "We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things." So what are we humans left to do? How would we recover the rhythm of God?
Fortunately for us, God had a plan to bring us back into the tempo of relationship. He gave us a partner to take the lead. It was his one and only Son ó Jesus Christ. McLaren pens, "But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of Godís music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and began rejoining the dance." 6
Jesus chooses the concept of divorce to demonstrate to the Pharisees how out of rhythm people had become in life.
2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
The tempo of commitment is the responsibility of a husband and a wife in the good times of life. (vv. 2-9)
Do you remember your honeymoon? The idea of a honeymoon is to get to know the individual better. There is a lot of laughing, physical contact, a desire to please the other, and be on one's best behavior. For some couples the honeymoon lasts a few days while others longer. It is the best of the good times of life.
It's that way in all sorts of relationships . . . career, friendships, church life, partnerships, and more. Life is exciting and thrilling during the good times.
What are some ways to face the future with the good times of life?
Vision together by mapping the future.
Enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
Victor Hugo said, "Enthusiasm is the fever of reason." Life has so much to offer and enthusiasm heats it up!
Cooperation and understanding.
They are the give and take in commitment and create 'the good times' of life. Paul said that the Christians were fellow laborers with God. How much more are we in need of being fellow laborers together with each other.
Courage is a matter of the heart which belongs to the other person.
The tempo of commitment is the responsibility of a husband and a wife in the bad times of life. (vv. 10-12)
At some point in our relationships we hit a snag and the good times become 'the bad times' of life. It is in the bad times that life takes a detour and people are ready to divorce the other partner in the relationship. Jesus says not to allow the bad times to destroy the rhythm of the dance in life. It is precisely at this point that steps need to be taken to change the dance step. We need to quit stepping on the other personís toes. So how is that accomplished?
Carole Lombard won Clark Gable with a simple tactic: 'I was his best audience.' 7 If we are to be good dance partners in life we need to communicate our ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams.
In the movie 'Paint Your Wagon', Lee Marvin played a philosophical drunk named Ben Rumstead. At the end of the movie Rumstead is standing in the rain talking with the proprietor of a local store. As they watch wagons passing along the street moving out of town the proprietor says, "There are two kinds of people in this world . . . them that moves on and them that stays. Ain't that the truth, Ben Rumstead?"
Rumstead retorts, "No, that ain't the truth. There are two kinds of people in this world. Them that is going someplace and them that is going no place." 8 What is needed in lifeís partnership to avoid the bad times is a purpose together! If marriage, partnerships, friendships are going 'no place,' itís time to get them going 'someplace!'
King Duncan wrote that over the portal of the University of Cairo are the words, "Chemistry is important. God is more important." How true that is of lifeís relationships. Is God in the center of our relationship with others?
The tempo of commitment is the responsibility of caring. (vv. 13-16)
Jesus demonstrates how we should be committed to each other by bringing children into the picture and says how much we should care about them. The truth he is admonishing us is to have compassion for one another. How is that demonstrated?
Welcome to the Rhythm of life . . . grab your partner and dance your life away!
6. Brian McLaren, "Form in Translation," Sojourners Magazine (March, 2006): 19.
7. King Duncan, Lively Illustrations for Effective Preaching (Knoxville: Seven Worlds Publishing, 1987) 117.
8. Herb Miller, Evangelism's Open Secret (St. Louis: CBP Press, 1984)
About the Author:
Derl Keefer is the Adult Development Ministries Coordinator in the Sunday School Department, Nazarene World Headquarters, Kansas City, MO
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