Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Dance

Okay, this post is a little wierd for a couple of reason. One, I never thought I would write anything entitled "The Dance" but here it is. Two, this is stylistically very different from anything else I've done on here. Instead of solving all the world's problems (or all the Church's problems) or quote some old dead guy, I wrote up a little allegory about the character of God and how His attributes work together.

Like all "artists", I'm not completely satisfied with my creation. I wish I were capable of translating these incredible concepts about the nature of our God into a formate that we could all understand and marvel at. However, I do hope this does put things into perspective a little bit more. It's not a perfect metaphor but it is my prayer that it would still cause you to praise the God that is.

In the very heart of God there is a Dance so intricate that sages ponder it and so glorious that all who behold gaze in steadfast wonder. The dancers are so skilled and harmonious. They dance in perfect step and time.

Justice and Love take the lead, partnered in glorious balance. At time one leads and then the other, but both ever present, adding to the beauty of the other. While Love is the Dance’s most adored star, one without the other would be incomplete and all who behold their marvelous dance would never dare suggest that they be separated, so perfect is their harmony. There are no solos or wallflowers in this Dance, for all the dancers are ever present and ever active.

Then, for the pleasure of all spectators, the Lord of the Dance introduces Holiness and Grace, such a beautiful couple. Holiness, with his perfect form and matchless exoticness, leaves the crowd so awestruck with his marvelous grandeur that they curse their eyes for being unable to bear such a flawless sight. But with Grace in his arms, the dance is complete for ‘tis Grace’s empathetic step and benevolent form that draws the audience into the Dance and fills their hearts with gratitude at being witness to such a majestic pare.

But then the spectators rise to their feet for out comes the most fascinating couple of all. It is Wrath, Justice’s son, with fair Mercy. Theirs is the most intricate of dances. Each step in precise and each motion balanced. The leadership is traded off with such mastery that their movements become interwoven. For each motion of Wrath, Mercy counters. With each step of Mercy, Justice’s offspring answers. One misstep and the Dance would be violated. One wrong move and the balances is broken. But sweat does not deface the brow of the dancers. They know their steps and they know the rhythm.

All the dancers are so very skilled. Each so glorious and beautiful in its own respect. None of them could be dismissed or the Dance would be compromised. They never step on each other’s toes but dance in synchronized perfection. They complement and never contradict. Each is needed and each is marvelous.

All who gaze upon the Dance marvel at its beauty. The finest of minstrels sing their praises, unable to contain their admiration. While the willingly ignorant mock the Dance they refuse to behold, the poorest of urchins peer through the windows that by chance they might glimpse her glorious motions.

A few brash admirers try to join in the fling. But Justice’s steps are too fervent, Holiness’ form too flawless and Wrath’s tempo too swift. They are swept away, unable to experience the coveted Dance. It is then that the hearts of the spectators melt with sorrow. From outside of the Floor they get but glimpses and peeks but are unable to taste and see the glorious Dance in the heart of God.

It is then that the Choreographer prepares for His Climax, a chance to put all the dancers on full, unparelled display. The music intensified and the steps hastened. The crowd gasped in awe as the dancers, in flair and talent never seen before, prepared for the blazing Climax.

It is then, with tear-flooded eyes, that the Lord of the Dance makes a daring proclamation. “Come in!” He cries. “Come in! Come touch and taste the Dance in all its glory! Come and know the heart of God!”

What mystery is this? All who enter dance with Love, Grace and Mercy. The fury of their brothers does not trample the invited. For Justice, Holiness and Wrath dance with the Lord Himself and spares His guests their indignation. Their rage He claims as His own. The Lord’s Climax is the Cross, His most grievous treasure.

Now all who answer the call join in the uncompromised Dance. Oh what wonder! For we are no longer spectators but can experience the Dance itself. We can taste and see that its Lord is good.
It’s then that you hear the Lord cry out, “Come join the Dance! Come join the Dance in the very heart of God!”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Worshiping The God Of Our Heroes

Here's something ironic for you: I'm going to write a blog post in which I quote one of my heroes advising us not to quote our heroes. Yeah, so I feel a little hypocritical but I think he makes an excellent point.

I've been thinking lately about one of the intriguing things about living in an information age. For all the downsides of the Internet and the cultural transparency, one of the real positive things is that I can learn from some of the greatest theologians of our time. I can listen to sermons, read articles and even interact with great preacher that I otherwise would have only read about. Just imagine if Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley or Charles Spurgeon could have had access to stuff we have today. How cool would it have been to watch Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God on YouTube or read the latest from the Sword and the Trowel on your iPhone?

However, there are some dangers that come with this opportunity. One is that we can start to compare our heroes to our local pastor. When we start wishing that our pastor was as articulate as John Piper or as passionate as Voddie Baucham, we're already at a loss. We need to appreciate of our spiritual leaders' individual gifts and not start comparing them to celebrities.

Another problem is that we start to heroize (that's a homeschool word, by the way) and idolize the great contemporary preachers. It gets to the point where they can do no wrong and if they say something then it must be right. While we condemn the Corinthians for claiming to be of Paul or of Apollos we have no qualms we saying that we're of Piper or of Driscoll. Rather then helping us grow closer to Christ they can actually be harmful to our relationship with Him.

I like what Francis Chan said when he was asked about this subject:

"These are things that I am trying to figure out right now, so I want to be careful not to speak too soon. What I will say is this . . .

I have benefitted greatly by hearing biblical preachers via podcast. I’m glad that there is so much solid teaching available. However, I am struggling with the celebrity status that comes from this kind of exposure. It’s not healthy for the preacher, nor is it healthy for those who talk about their ministry heroes so often (I am guilty of this).

In many ways, we are conforming to the pattern of the world. While it is good that people are talking about what they have learned from “Piper, Driscoll, Keller, Chan, etc,” I am concerned about how much we speak those names rather than the name of Jesus. It has gotten to the point where I believe we have taken glory away from Jesus. Personally, I am intentionally trying to mention human names less and speak often the matchless name of Jesus.

All believers have received the Holy Spirit. We must go forth in His power with confidence. God has placed people in your path. You are called to disciple them. We too quickly direct converts toward podcast preachers and neglect our God-given mandate to disciple. We must believe in the power of the Scriptures themselves, and we must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Let’s use the resources God has given to the church at large, but let’s not shirk our responsibility to the local church. Let’s not boast too much of others, and let’s not underestimate what the Spirit desires to do through us."

Basically, it comes down to utilizing our resources to grow closer to God without letting them distract us from Him. When it aids our spiritual growth and the work of the family and local church, it's a very good thing. When it distracts us and divides our loyalties. It's a very bad thing. We need to make sure we are worshiping the God our heroes and not the heroes themselves.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Addicted to Service

Recently, I came across a verse in Scripture which stood out to me. It isn't some great theological text. Nor is it of a memorable or important verse. In fact, the section in question is actually show in parenthesis by most translators as if it were an after thought that the Apostle Paul just kind of plugged in there. The passage is I Corinthians 16:15, which states: "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)" (KJV)

When I first read this passage in the good ol' King Jimmy Version, I had to laugh at the choice of words. Addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. The English Standard Version simply says "that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints".

But then I got to thinking about the powerful word picture that is painted by the word addicted. Our world is full of addicts. It seems nearly anything can be an addiction. Smoking, drinking, porn, food, media, sweets and even exercise. Some of my friends accuse of me being a coffee addict and their assessment is probably not entirely untrue. But here Paul describes a man and his family that had addicted themselves to service of the saints.

What is an addicted person like? By definition it means that their life is no longer their own. It is under the mastery of something else. An addict no longer calls the shots. He does what his master demands of him. He is bound to the object of his addiction to the point that is almost impossible to break that bond. Eventually, it gets to the point where the addict's life is completely and thoroughly controlled by something other them himself. Addiction is a powerful thing.

Most addictions are bad. They rob us of the loving lordship of Jesus Christ and bring us under the bondage of a spiritual idol. But what would it look like if we addicted ourselves to the service of the saints?

In his epistle, Paul commends Stephanas and his family for devoting themselves to serving the Body of Christ. Here was an entire family that had commit themselves to laboring for others. Paul uses some very strong language to describe their dedication of this ministry. He says that they addicted themselves. How addicted are you to serving and ministering to your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you fit the profile of person addicted to serving others?

It always breaks my heart to see spiritual siblings strive against each other instead of laboring to serve each other. It also breaks my heart to hear people of talk of ministry as if it's something reserved for professionals. However, we see that in the early Church, ministering to others was something that average church-going laymen did.

Something I've been convicted about lately is my attitude when I go to church. Do I simply want to get blessed and ministered to spiritual or am devoted to blessing and ministering to others spiritually? Is service something others owe me or something I owe them?

In short, we all need to follow the example of Stephanas and his family. We need to addict ourselves to the service of the saints in a real and dedicated way.