Sunday, March 06, 2016

Identity in Christ - 62c (part of the Vine)

♦ God's Perspective

I recently read someone's description of the relationship of the Trinity. (The description was in Tim Keller's "Reason for God," but I think Keller was quoting someone else.)

In eternity past, each member of the Trinity focused 100% love and attention on each of the others and received 100% love and attention in return.

The picture used was a member of the Trinity circling another, showing love, focusing totally on the other. Then, he moved to the other. Then, he moved back. Meanwhile, the other two are pursuing the same thing.

The picture in my mind was three orbs of light three (suns) swirling around one another in a complicated, perfectly balanced pattern. There were no collisions, no near misses. Each sun urging each other in a perfect harmony. The writer called this "the dance of God.":

Now, imagine God wanted to share this dance. God designs and creates billions of living beings (imagine living sparks next to three suns) and invites them into the dance. Each created being swirling around the suns with love and attention. Then, they are swirling around the other created beings with love and attention. Giving to God. Giving to others. Receiving from God. Receiving from the others. 

The place of the greatest love and the greatest joy lies within the dance of God. The dance is a picture/metaphor of the relationship within the God-head. And God invites people into the dance, into the relationship, into the life of God.

The vine is another picture of people moving into the life and relationship of God. In this case, the emphasis is focused on the relationship being a resource of life and energy. It is the relationship that feeds. It is the relationship that triggers changes in the spiritual DNA. It is the relationship that gives life that can be transferred to others.

♦ Living My Life

The basic message here is to practice that which creates, strengthens, and improves one's connection to God.

People have written and taught all sorts of ways to achieve this. Benedict created the Rule to help the monks in his order live focused on Christ. People have followed Bible reading plans, participated in rituals developed in the Middle Ages, going on retreats, memorized large sections of the Bible, and engaged in various sorts of prayer. I myself seem to use a variety of "divina lectio," which is a combination of reading, meditation, and praying on / about / through Scripture. 

Some people hold that worship is the main way to foster and grow the connection. Groups has developed a common form, so that there was coordination and no confusion when they meet as a group.

Worship in the New Testament could be described as a heart and practice that acknowledges all of God (words, acts, nature, ways) and lives in surrender to him. This opens up a wide range of practices that could express true worship in a church. (I know a church that allows much freedom for personal expression. In that church,  there's a man who literally dances through the worship portion of the meeting. For this man, it is important to have open, transparent exuberance in his celebration of God's nature and work. And I'm sure God honors his honest and open devotion.)

But worship is not confined to the church meeting. If worship is a heart and practice that acknowledges all of God, and surrenders to him, then all of life should entail worship. Work, leisure, eating, sleeping, and interacting with other people should be worship

Therefore, worship encompasses a wide range of activity and emotion. Worship meetings do not have one form, or one setting. Personal times with God do not need to follow one pattern.

People find patterns or rhythms that work for them. They promote those patterns, other people adopt them, and they work for those other people. The expectation becomes that the pattern will work for all people. (Should all people be dancing through worship? On the other hand, maybe more people should be dancing?)

The Bible does prescribe certain practices, and I believe each one of God's family should follow these practices. But there are variations in how to pursue these practices. All of God's children should read the Bible regularly. That doesn't mean they should all use the same systematic reading plan. Maybe they should use no plans, but rather listen to the Father as to where they should read. Or maybe they should do both. In any case, it is important for each one to find their own pattern and rhythm. This pattern is our part in the dance of God. This pattern is our connection to life, health, wholeness and growth. Ignoring our place in the dance leads to experiencing a diminishing of life. Choosing to engage in the wrong pattern could result in poor nourishment. (NOTE: Still, any food is better than no food.)

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