Our culture says relationships are nice but we are here to get work done. Relationships are good as long as they don’t get in the way of things we are pursuing. Money, career, other goals are placed over relationships. And if you live this way, in the end, you are going to dash yourself on the rocks of reality. Because God has knit into the very fabric of reality this kind of self-giving love. And to not align oneself with this kind of self-giving love is to oppose and resist reality itself.
God has been living this way for all eternity. God is not an individual, he is a community. A divine dance where each Person is glorifying one another, loving one another.
God does not seek his own glory in the way we think, but He is constantly giving glory to others, and simultaneously, He is constantly receiving glory from others. Therefore, God is infinitely happy. If you find someone you adore and that person feels the same way about you, then you’re in heaven. Why is it heaven? Because it comes from God and this way of life lines up with reality. God in the Trinity does not seek his own glory but he receives the glory of others while at the same time giving glory to the others.
You may say, hey, wait a minute. I thought that in the Bible, God is always saying worship me, glorify me. That’s true. But God invites us to glorify Him because this is how we can experience joy. Why would God create us? Not because He needs our love. Not because He needs our glory. He has already been experiencing a divine dance in the interior life of the Godhead since before time. So why did he create us? Not to get but to give us His joy. To invite us in. If you glorify me, if you center your life around me, if you glorify me for who I am, then you will step into the dance of God. And you will know abundant joy. No wonder Jesus says, whoever loses his life for my sake will gain it eternally.
Adam and Eve were once part of this dance. They enjoyed perfect, uninterrupted fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden. God created Adam and Eve to orbit around him. And His only stipulation — don’t eat fruit from this tree. And our response was — why not? What if Adam and Eve said, we’ll listen to God just because we don’t want to get into trouble? Then, they have missed the entire point of a love relationship. It’s like me saying the reason I will not commit adultery is because I am afraid of getting caught. That would be pretty sad. I hope that is not my reason. Shouldn’t it be love for Jackie? She is the end, the ultimate reason why I would not cheat. And the same goes for God, when Adam and Eve started to question God as being a sufficient reason not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you see that it was just a matter of time before they fell into sin. Because they were already moving away from God as the center, as the ultimate end why they would not eat of the tree. Don’t eat from this tree. JUST FOR ME. That’s what God would say. You need no other reason. Isn’t that a sufficient reason? Simply because you love me, that’s why you will not eat from the tree.
Satan’s lie basically questioned this — he said self-giving love where you orbit around another, that’s a ludicrous way to live. God is holding out from you. Satan tells us to be stationary. And we learned the hard way that this way doesn’t work. When we are afraid to trust anyone, we are stationary. And after the Fall of humanity, our relationship with God was unraveled and this led to every other relationship unraveling. Because we all want to be little centers. A solar system where every planet wants every other planet to revolve around them is a solar cataclysm. And when we are at the center, the dance is impossible.
So how do we get into the dance? Through Jesus, our second Adam. The first Adam lost our place in the dance in the Garden of Eden. The second Adam opened the door to the dance at the Garden of Gethsemane when he agreed to go to the cross and die for our sins. The first Adam failed to obey God regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The second Adam obeyed God and died on the tree of Calvary.
On the cross, Jesus invites us to the dance. God is not getting anything out of us. Yet, He unconditionally love us. He actually orbits around us, he encircles us. That’s a wild idea. He does this because it’s in His nature to love in this kind of self-giving way. Jesus says, I lay down my life for my sheep. Self-giving love to the point of death on a cross. If you see that, really, and you see this as a beautiful thing done unto you, then you are beginning to enter the dance.
The love of God moves you and gets you out of your fear. His love breaks the Satanic lie that keeps us stationary. And we are pulled into the life of the Trinity. You begin to orbit him as he has been orbiting you. Jesus moves toward us on the cross. The dance for us begins on the cross. We move toward him by repentance and faith. Jesus, I believe in you, I trust you, I surrender, I give my life to you. Our response of self-giving love. Jesus moves toward us again — He saves us initially and from that point on, He is constantly interceding for us. The Holy Spirit also intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. God lavishes His love on us. The Godhead is doting on us. He delights in us. To Jesus, we are as gorgeous to him as a bride is to a bridegroom. This is not religion where you try hard to live ethically on your own strength. Instead, you live empowered by the assurance of God’s love for you. Do you see the dance?
John 17 is a remarkable passage about Jesus’ prayer for believers and you can see how we are being pulled into the love of the Trinity.
John 17 – 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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 [we are being pulled into the dance] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me [what a crazy thought that God actually gives us glory, He orbits around us, He actually encircles us], that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me [these are two partners in a dance]. 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. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world [here, glory and love are tied together — glory is given because of love]. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them [again, we are pulled into the dance] and that I myself may be in them.”
There are multiple dance movements going on here. v21 – May they be in us — we are pulled into the dance of the Trinity.
Then, in v26, Jesus is inviting God to pour out the same love He has for His Son upon all of us, the divine dance overture extends to envelope all of us. Do you see it? I got really excited as I started to view my life in light of who God is and His trinitarian nature.
Jesus is the second Adam. He is the great Bridegroom and he came to the edge of the dance floor. On a hill outside Jerusalem. To pull us into the dance of God. This is the gospel. Christianity is not just religion where we have to keep our nose clean for the rest of our lives. That’s a boring, burdensome, joyless life. How would people understand the gospel if they looked at our lives? Would they see joy, laughter, freedom, would they see the dance? If not, what have we turned the gospel into?
Did you ever wonder why the very first miracle that Jesus performed was changing water to wine at a wedding banquet? It seems like a pretty wimpish way to start. Why not start with feeding 5000 or raising someone from the dead? Why water to wine for his first miracle? It’s because the kingdom of God is all about parties and celebrations and banquets. In the first century, it was common to have a week-long wedding banquet. And the only job of a bridegroom at a wedding banquet is to make sure the wine doesn’t run out. I know I can’t multi-task well so for an important event Jackie would take care of 101 things and she might trust me with 1 thing because that’s about all I can handle. And this bridegroom just had 1 task and the guy messes up. How incompetent can he be, but if you are married, you know this is true to life. Eve was created, if you remember, to be a helper because Adam and all guys ever since need a lot of help.
And into our human failure, the perfect Bridegroom comes and he is looking for his bride. And aren’t we, the church, the bride of Christ? That means he came because he loves us. And we are sinners, we are always making a mess of our lives, we are always running out of wine. But Jesus, the perfect Bridegroom says, don’t worry, I have more than enough wine. My wine is my blood shed for you on a cross. And it is more than enough. I invite you to join the party.
I believe true evangelism begins when we are in love, so intoxicated by God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, that we live as a bride of Christ awaiting her wedding day. Jesus is looking for a bride, people to love him in the way that he loves us. He is not looking for religious people who are morally upright and can live by a high ethical standard. Those ethics flow out of a love relationship. The ethics are a byproduct. The accent here is on love, not ethics. And may people walk into this place and be mesmerized by the corporate witness of Christ’s body, the church. And may they come to the edge of the dance floor and may we invite them to join the dance. That’s evangelism.
This dance happens in relationship. From the Old Testament, God’s intention all along was to create a people. A community. Because the communal nature of God can only be reflected in community. I have no hope of reflecting the Christian life on my own. Our relationships of love and joy will reflect Christ. If you love each other, the world will know that we are his disciples. People get interested when we live like that. And for many of the older ones in this room, that’s how God saved us.