Welcome to the Dance
Can you remember when you first learned about the Trinity? I remember being absolutely fascinated with it. This intentional design by God, existing three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Apart from learning about each member of this triune community, it struck me like a 5-year-old, why? Why not a simple plan with one godhead and call it a day? Why three of them?
Tim Keller writes of the Trinity:
“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.”
This description evokes a beautiful, intimate relationship among all participants. The “why” of the three-member design of the Trinity is simply this—our God is three in one because he is a relational God, and he loves to love. Love is especially important to Jesus as we see throughout the gospels. So much so that Jesus gives us a new command. John 13:34-35 (ESV) says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
It’s easy to just gloss over this word “love” because we hear it all the time. Yet there is a radical difference between love as experienced on a human level and love expressed on a spiritual level. The most fundamental difference is between feeling and action. The world’s idea of love is based on emotion. Do we feel love? Do we feel loved? The danger of this kind of love based on feelings is that it is fleeting, momentary, and self-motivated.
This is not the love Jesus is talking about. God’s love is agape love, and it is action. Christian love is intentional, tangible, unselfish, impactful, and aimed at another. God desires for us to approach the Lord and Christian friends with the same anticipation, rejoicing, and deep understanding of the other as the Trinity expresses to one another. When we become a believer, we become part of the body of Christ and God desires for his people to come together, looking straight into the eyes of each other with our hands outstretched, saying “Welcome to the Dance!”
Yet, sadly, this kind of active, intimate relationship with other believers is not a serious goal of most Christians. The persistent 5-year-old in me continues to ask “Why?” Why can’t we get Christian relationship right? Here are some possible explanations.
Fear and Pride
How many of us have been burned by someone we loved? This fear of being hurt understandably puts us instinctively in self-protection mode. We avoid seeking deeper relationships because we are afraid of being rejected or we’re too stubborn. Our enemy is thrilled that we are holding back love from others to protect ourselves. This is not as Jesus intended. Imagine if he loved us this way. Praise God his kind of love is unconditional agape love. In fact, Christians should love not for what we get out of it, but love others first because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Period. This is a pure love. Yet we are tempted to attach the strings of receiving love back, so we hesitate. We put conditions on our love rather than simply loving others with no expectation of return love.
CHALLENGE: Prayerfully ask God to help you forgive whoever hurt you. Keep praying until you get there. Forgiving is a choice, not a feeling. Forgiving will help free you to then proceed forward into a new Christian friendship. As you enter this new Christian relationship, try to enter it with no strings attached. Simply love the person wholly, intentionally, and unconditionally. It might be a neighbor, a spouse, or a coworker. Extend your hand and invite them to the dance. If they do not accept, that’s okay. Keep loving. Keep dancing.
There are more ways to “connect” than ever, yet anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation are at all-time highs. Could it be because a “like” on a post only provides a momentary, fleeting connection? Social media relationships are mostly fake and shallow. Television and streaming services are often another momentary and hollow connection with no relational value. Think of the hours spent in a week on these things. This media obsession to connect with anyone or anything is so far from the pulsating dance of the Trinity that we cannot even place them on the spectrum of transparent, intimate, agape love. They are halfhearted attempts to connect, which fail miserably to bring the deep relationship for which our souls are wired. No wonder we feel alone, disappointed, and disconnected. When it comes to Christian relationships, less is more. The Trinity is not 342 followers waving at each other. It is three of them, closely dialed into each other, hiding nothing.
CHALLENGE: Delete the most time-consuming social media app on your phone right now. Pray and ask God for courage to help you. You can do it and you will be so relieved and grateful when you do. Go ahead…delete it. Then replace all the time you spent on that app you just deleted and fill that time by picking one person to move toward. It can be your spouse, a friend in Bible study, a Christian neighbor. Start a dance with them, study them, learn from them, give to them with no agenda of taking. In no time your soul will be more alive again, your foot will be tapping, and you will want more of the dance.
Get, get, get. Take, take, take. Me, me, me. We are barraged with this messaging from the world. Yet we know this is not what the spiritual dance with believers is about. Quite the opposite. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit have a sacrificial, give, give, give mentality. They are about the other and their focus is not on themselves. As a believer, we are to be Spirit-led instead of led by the selfish desires of our flesh. So, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
CHALLENGE: Eliminate the phrase “I want…” from your vocabulary for two weeks and instead ask one individual from your inner circle “How can I help you this week?” Pray and ask God for courage, understanding, hearing, and sensitivity toward the other. Ask them to request something big that requires a sacrifice from you. Then do it, no strings attached, asking for nothing in return. Hold out your hand to them and invite them to dance with you. Begin to express agape love to them like God intended.
This is a noisy, demanding world and many of us feel like we are drowning in all the distractions. And if we are being honest, many of us are. To be a vibrant partner in the dance of Christ followers, we need time to dedicate to each other. This means we must eliminate the time-sucking, soul-robbing noise. How do we do this? Our sense of what is important must be based on the Bible and not on what the world tells us. The Bible tells us our priorities, yet we think our flesh, our world, is the better way. All the games we play on our phone, the political opinions we listen to, the overtime hours we pour into our careers, sports, and music—there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. But if this is all we are doing and we are not in dynamic dances with other Christians, knowing them and being known, then we simply have it wrong. Worry, loneliness, fatigue, fear, confusion—all of these come from focusing on the wrong things.
CHALLENGE: Identify and write down a time-consuming optional activity during your last week that offers you no opportunity of deep relationship. Pray about eliminating this activity from your life. Be honest with yourself. If you are serious about dancing better with others, ask your spouse or close friend what they think you do that wastes a ton of time and is not pouring into anyone or anything. Then eliminate it. You have the choice.
Our greatest commands from God are all about being in agape love relationships. Love the Lord your God and love your neighbor. Love is vital to the Christian life. As a believer, God wants us to be the kind of partner in our relationships who contributes. This means sacrificially listening, observing, leading, following, receiving, giving, and welcoming others into the dance. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14). Let’s commit to being better friends and may God be glorified as we love each other well.
 Tim Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), 214-215.