I remember when I was a teenager. Just about every weekend, we went dancing. A group of friends and I followed a band named “Country Breeze,” and we would travel back and forth between Fiesta Marina on the shores of lake Corpus Christi and the Orange Grove Rifle Club. It was always nice to have those friends along because I knew I’d have dance partners throughout the night. I never went to dances alone. I wanted to make sure I knew someone who would be there. Why? Well, you may not believe this, but deep down inside, I am quite insecure. I have a deep seated fear of rejection, and when you go to a dance alone, you are forced to ask complete strangers if they’d like to dance. And you never know how they will respond.
Every once in a while, I would screw my courage up just enough to go ask a girl who I did not know to dance. Most of the time, the answer was in the affirmative, but there were those other times. There were those times when the answer was a firm and definite no, and even though the no was not emotionally devastating, it caused a series of questions to rumble through my heart. “Why didn’t she want to dance with me? Is it because of the way I look? Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? Does she think I am a poor dancer? Is it because of the way I dress? What am I doing wrong or what did I do wrong?” I don’t like it when these questions rumble through my heart and my head. I don’t like it at all.
I’m going to break from this train of thought for just a moment and recall another memory from those dances I went to. I can remember a few times when I would sit out a dance or so and just watch the other couples dance around the floor. There were a few couples who I would stand in awe of. If you have been dancing, you know the types of couples I am talking about. These are the couples who seem to be inside each others’ heads. They move with an incredible amount of grace and precision. They know exactly what moves they are going to make. They anticipate one another’s footsteps. They spin and twirl effortlessly because they know each other so well. Watching them brought several things to the surface. There was awe and wonder at the beauty of the dance. You couldn’t help but appreciate such an effort. Yet, there was a jealousy and a sense of inadequacy which rose to the surface as well. I wanted to be able to dance like that, and I was all too aware of my inability to move in such a fashion.
Why all this talk about dancing?
I would like you to imagine today looking at the fullness of God. I want you to imagine the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I want you to imagine the Godhead as a divine dance. The three in one; one in three dancing in an endless circle of joy. As you watch, you know, beyond a doubt you have never seen anything like this before. The three move so well as one that they could never be separated, and you cannot simply focus on one without compromising the beauty of the three. You cannot grasp the beauty of the scene. You cannot grasp the stunning way the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work and move with each other. Everything they do is seamless. Perfect. There are no flaws. There are no missed steps. Their timing is beautiful and wonderful. And it should be. They invented the dance. From eternity, they have been dancing.
Yes, you are awed by the beauty of the dance, but there is something else that wells up within you. For as you watch, you would like to dance like that as well. You would like to experience the same kind of joy you see before you. You would like to experience the same kind of perfection. You would like to become a part of that dance because it seems like nothing could ever be the same once you experienced it.
But you are all too aware of your flaws. You look down at your feet and know they will stumble. You look down at your feet and know they could never keep up. You know that it would be an impossibility to even come close to matching what you see happening before you. It would ruin the beauty. It would ruin the perfection. Your own flaws and imperfections come rising to the surface. In some ways, you even feel like you shouldn’t be watching the divine dance. It’s simply too marvelous for imperfect eyes.
And yet, today, Jesus prays a prayer. Jesus in conversation with His heavenly Father, one of the partners of the divine dance, says, “20 ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Jesus prays that we might be a part of the divine dance. Ponder that for just a moment. Jesus invites you and me to come into the divine dance of God. Jesus wants us to know that kind of joy; that kind of completeness; that kind of perfection. Jesus wants us to experience what it is like to have wholeness and contentedness and well-being. Jesus wants us to know what it is like to be in the midst of the divine love and glory that the Father, Son, and Spirit share with one another.
And we know we don’t belong there. We know we shouldn’t even get the chance to dance like that. We know our steps are feeble. We know they are off. We know that when the divine music starts playing, we are more than a few beats off. We know we misstep time and time again. Our hearts are not tuned to the music. Deep down inside each and every one of us is the sense that we don’t measure up. Deep down within each and every one of us is the sense that we are inadequate. Deep down within each and every one of us is the sense that even though we have been told time and again that we are okay just the way we are–we are not. We’re not.
Oh, I know there are those voices in society which tell us we are fine just the way we are. They tell us repeatedly that we don’t need to change anything about ourselves and we are worthy of love and affection just the way we are. But, remember, the same voices that are telling you that you are okay just the way you are, are telling that person over there who has hurt you by his or her actions; who has gossiped about you; who has cheated you; who has lied to you–those voices are telling him or her she is okay just the way he or she is too. Those voices are liars. They are telling each and every one of us what we want to hear. They are telling us lies so that we will feel good about ourselves and become content with who we are. It is always everyone else who has the problem. It is always everyone else who can’t dance right. And when this starts weaseling into your heart, it turns you into a self-righteous, indignant sort. You look with contempt upon everyone else, and you do not love. You do not have complete joy. We must understand we are imperfect. We must understand our brokenness. It’s a requirement to know them before we can begin the dance. For if we try to get into the dance ourselves, our imperfections will prevent us. Our hearts aren’t in the right place. Our own work to get into the dance will be rejected, but it is the Son who gives us the invitation through His work.
For the invitation to the dance comes through the cross. The invitation to join the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes through the blood of the Son as He lives the life we should live; dies the death we deserve; and is raised to eternal life. The invitation is the Gospel:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that all those who believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world may be saved through Him.
I usually try to explain such things in my sermons. I usually try to show how this all comes together, but today, I would like to do things a little differently. I would like to take a moment to simply ask you to believe the Savior has given you an invitation to the dance. I would like to ask you to believe and trust in His work. And then I would like to ask you to enter into the dance by praying John chapter 17 as you have it before you in the bulletin insert:
‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that we may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4Jesus glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave Him to do. 5So now, Father, glorify Him in your own presence with the glory that Jesus had in your presence before the world existed.
6 ‘Jesus has made your name known to those whom you gave him from the world. We were yours, and you gave us to Him, and we have kept your word. 7Now we know that everything you have given Him is from you; 8for the words that you gave to Him, Jesus has given to us, and we have received You and Jesus and know in truth that Jesus came from you; and we have believed that you sent Him. 9Jesus is asking on our behalf; Jesus is not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave Him, because we are yours. 10All that are His are yours, and yours are His; and Jesus has been glorified in us. 11And now Jesus is no longer in the world, but we are in the world, and Jesus is coming to you. Holy Father, protect us in your name that you have given Jesus, so that we may be one, as You and He are one. 12While Jesus was with us, He protected us in your name that you have given Him. Jesus guarded us, and not one of us was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now Jesus is coming to you, and He speaks these things in the world so that we may have His joy made complete in us. 14Jesus has given us your word, and the world has hated us because we do not belong to the world, just as Jesus does not belong to the world. 15Jesus is not asking you to take us out of the world, but Jesus asks you to protect us from the evil one. 16We do not belong to the world, just as Jesus does not belong to the world. 17Sanctify us in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus has sent us into the world. 19And for our sakes Jesus sanctified Himself, so that we also may be sanctified in truth.
20 ‘Jesus asks not only on behalf of us, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Him through our word, 21that we may all be one. As you, Father, are in Jesus and Jesus is in you, may we also be in You and Jesus, so that the world may believe that you have sent Him. 22The glory that you have given Jesus He has given us, so that we may be one, as the Father and the Son are one, 23Jesus in us and the Father in Jesus, that we may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent Jesus and have loved us even as you have loved Jesus. 24Father, Jesus desires that we also, whom you have given Him, may be with Him where He is, to see His glory, which you have given Him because you loved Him before the foundation of the world. 25 ‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but Jesus knows you; and we know that you have sent Him. 26He made your name known to us, and He will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved Him may be in us, and Jesus in us.’ Thank you Father, for the invitation to dance. Amen.