By Vince Antonucci
I’ve never been much into dancing. I was forced to create some jiggy moves at school dances in Junior High. Never fun. Remember how awful those dances were, with girls on one side of the gym, guys on the other. Occasionally, a guy would emerge on the dance floor, but I never enjoyed it.
I sometimes will slow dance with my wife at a wedding reception, but I’ve got a problem. When I slow dance, my right hip starts to ache. I must be doing something wrong! My inability to effectively boogie down, and the associated pain, leads me to avoid dancing. Turns out that’s a problem. It’s a problem because all life is about the dance.
Three In One
The Bible teaches our God is one, yet three. He is three, yet one. God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is not that God is sometimes, or at different times appears as, the Father, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Spirit. He is always all three. He is three persons, but they live in such a tight-knit community of love that they exist as one God. It’s hard to get our heads around, and can cause headaches if one spends too much time pondering it.
Throughout the ages, theologians have studied the nature of God and the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These theologians have also used words to describe this unique three-in-one, one-yet-three relationship. The term that has stuck is “trinity.” Trinity comes from Latin, in which it means “three” or “a triad”. It seems Tertullian was the first to use trinity to describe God’s nature sometime in the third century.
These theologians are doing their best, and trinity is a fine word, but I prefer a different one. In the 700’s AD another theologian, John of Damascus, used the word “perichoresis” to explain the nature of God. “Peri” means “around” and “choresis” comes from the same root word that we get “choreography.” Basically, perichoresis means to “dance around.” The idea is the three persons of God are in a constant, continual dance. I like that. If you’ve ever watched world-class ballroom dancers you’ve seen two people moving in such a perfect unison it seems they share one body. It’s hard to tell where one body stops and the other starts.
A God Who Dances
We see this in how each member of the trinity is always deferring to and pointing attention to the other members of the trinity.
God says, “This is my Son, whom I love, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5) and “This is my Son, listen to Him” (Mark 9:7).
Jesus defers credit people seek to give to him by saying, “My Father is always working” (John 5:17) and “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19) and “I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49).
The Holy Spirit points people to Jesus (see John 15:26 and John 16:14) and speaks only what He’s been told to say by the Father (see John 16:13).
The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche, who popularized the idea that “God is dead,” once said, “If these Christians want me to believe in their god, they’ll have to sing better songs, they’ll have to look more like people who have been saved, they’ll have to wear on their countenance the joy of the beatitudes. I could only believe in a god who dances.” What Nietzsche failed to realize is our God is very much alive, and is a God who dances.
Invitation To Dance
There’s a famous painting called “Trinity” by the 14th Century artist Andrei Rubley. It portrays all three persons of the trinity sitting around a table. God the Father is draped in gold, representing his kingship. Jesus the Son is wearing red and blue, colors meant to represent the earth and sky he came to. God the Holy Spirit is in green, symbolizing his involvement as the source of life. They are sharing a common bowl.
Look closer and you’ll see the emphasis each puts on the other. The Father is looking and gesturing towards the Son. The Son is pointing to the Spirit. What’s most interesting, perhaps, is the orientation of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit points to the fourth side of the table.
The fourth side of the table is empty. There’s a mark in the middle, as if something is missing. On the original painting there is, even now some eight hundred years later, some glue residue. Art scholars believe the glue was left by something that used to be affixed to the painting. They say the artist glued a mirror to the table.
The fourth side is vacant because the vacancy is meant to be filled by you. The Spirit is offering an invitation. You are invited to join the dance. God has always existed in an eternal community of love, and he created you to be a part of his love, to join his community. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I will abide in you” (John 15:4). He had always existed in the trinity, and he came to earth so you could live in the trinity.
Maybe, like me, you’ve spent most of your life avoiding dance floors. However, we have a God who dances, and he’s inviting you onto the floor. It’s time to dance.
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