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Chapter 6 – Dancers, Not Dinosaurs

From the book Relational Holiness – Responding to the Call of Love by Thomas J. Oord and Michael Lodahl

Contributory Holiness Notions as Expressions of Love.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10, ESV)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, ESV)

What does fear of the Lord mean?

https://www.gotquestions.org/fear-Lord-beginning-wisdom.html

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18), ESV)

For the Benefit of All

“Becoming everyday disciples who pursue holiness of heart and life, who long to have the universal love of God filling our hearts and governing our lives, was the historic goal of the Methodist movement, and continues to be the objective of United Methodists today.” [1]

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him make himself scarce. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:7-10, The Message)

The World God Wants to See [2]

“Here is a great secret of the Bible: Your longing to become all you were meant to be is a tiny echo of God’s longing to begin the new creation. The rabbis spoke of this as tikkun olam — to fix the world. The more concerned you are about your own fulfillment, the less fulfilled you will be. When your life is devoted to yourself, it is as small as a grain of wheat. When your life is given to God, however, it is as if that grain is planted in rich soil, growing into part of a much bigger project.

The picture used at the end of the Bible is that of a wedding, a glimpse of what God has been up to all this time:

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” [Revelation 21:2, NIV]

One day there will be glorious harmony between God and all that he has made. God wants no one left out. As you flourish, you help in God’s re-creation of the world he wants to see.

My niece Courtney got married not long ago, and at the wedding reception they had a dance for married couples in which they would eliminate couples from the dance floor based on the length of their marriage. At the beginning we were all on the floor. Courtney and Patrick were the first to leave, then all the couples married less than one year left, then those married less than five years, and so on. Nancy and I made it to the twenty-five-year cut, and by that time the crowd had thinned out considerably.

Finally, there was only one couple left on the dance floor, and they had been married fifty-three years. Everybody watched them — a tall, courtly, silver-haired man who stood a foot taller than his wife — but they watched only each other. They danced with joy, not in the skill of their dancing, but in the love they radiated for each other. What a contrast between the newlyweds, fresh in the health and beauty of their marriage, and the beauty of another kind of love that shone from the last couple on the floor! Perhaps part of why we appreciate such beauty is that it speaks to us of an inner flourishing not visible to the eye.

When the dancing ended, the master of ceremonies turned to Courtney and Patrick and said to them, “Take a good look at that couple on that dance floor. Your task now is to live and love together in such a way that fifty-three years from now that’s you. That dance is your dance. Now it begins.”

At that moment we all were struck by the mystery of the brevity of life. When that bride of fifty-three years looked at her husband, she didn’t just see an aging grandfather. She saw the young, tanned tennis champion she married five decades earlier. He did not see only a grandmother in her seventies. He saw the lovely, effervescent belle he had loved since she was a teenager. I know, because they are my parents, Courtney’s grandparents. And I thought of how, to my mom and dad, their wedding probably seems like yesterday. Time is that way.

Life is that way.

I projected my thoughts to about fifty-three years from now, when Courtney and Patrick will have been married as long as that couple. In fifty-three years my mother and my father will be gone. Nancy will be gone. And I will be 105 years old.

I don’t want to miss the dance. I get hung up on so many things in life, worrying about what I will never do or achieve or have. But I don’t want to miss the dance. I want to love my wife, care for my kids, and give life to my friends. I want to do the work God made me to do. I want to love God and the world he made. I want to do my part to help it flourish, for my spiritual maturity is not measured by following rules. ‘The me God made me to be’ is measured by my capacity to love. When we live in love, we flourish. That is the dance.

The time to love is now. When we love, we enter into the mystery of eternity. Nothing offered in love is ever lost, for this mortal life is not the whole story. This life is to the next a kind of school, a kind of preparation for the me you were meant to be. That person will go into eternity. What matters most is not what you accomplish; it is who you become.

‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let all who hear say, “Come!”’ [Revelation 22:17, NIV] It is the last, best invitation in the Bible.

Don’t miss the wedding, God says. Save the last dance for me.”


[1]The Method of United Methodism Today: Covenant Discipleship, The People of the United Methodist Church.

https://www.umc.org/en/content/the-method-of-methodism-expands-societies-and-the-new-room

[2] The Me I Want to Be. John Ortberg. Zondervan. Kindle Edition. (pgs. 18-20).

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