One show that has caught America by storm over the past years is “Dancing with the Stars.” Now I have to admit that I have watched the show a few times; the beauty, the grace, the flow of two people acting as one. But, most of the time, it brings to mind the frustration, humiliation, and awkwardness of my own dancing ability. However, I do admire watching the untalented people, who are forged together with a “pro,” move outside of their comfort zones to learn to dance. It tells me that even an untalented person (me) can be taught to dance.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who popularized the “God is dead” movement, once wrote, “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 that our God does dance and He dances with us. In Matthew 11:17, Jesus uses the dance metaphor to describe the generation that rejected him: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.” Jesus invited them to dance, and was heartbroken when they didn’t.
Sydney Bertram Carter, an English poet, songwriter, and folk musician wrote a song called “Lord of the Dance” that gives us a perspective about the life of Jesus and the longing to dance:
I danced in the morning when the world was begun. I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun; I came down from heaven and I danced on earth, at Bethlehem I had my birth.
Chorus: Dance then, wherever you may be I am the Lord of the Dance, said He! And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be. And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee but they would not dance and they wouldn't follow me. I danced for fishermen, for James and John. They came with me and the Dance went on.
Chorus: Dance then, wherever you may be. I am the Lord of the Dance, said He! And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be. And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
The image of the dance is a picture of two people joyfully moving in step to the music. Sydney Carter has a point, that our relationship to Christ is like a dance, and Jesus is our dance partner, but more importantly…He is our dance instructor. He wants to leads us through a wonderful journey of the Christian dance.
Do you remember when you were little and you stood on your dad’s feet as you walked around the house? He did all the work; he moved you from point A to B; as long as you stayed on his feet, he would guide you through the steps of the dance. That was fun! Then, one day, you moved on to those dreaded dance lessons that you had to take as your friends were outside playing. But, you learned something valuable: If you follow the lead, you could learn to dance (maybe not dance well, but you would learn to dance). You see, the dance is not about talent and ability, but the willingness to follow and trust someone else as you move to the music. Likewise, that is what Jesus wants us to do in His dance with us: Follow His lead as He leads us on a moving dance through life.
But you might say I can’t dance! I have no rhythm! Dancing is more than getting the steps right. It is feeling the music and moving together with someone you trust (remember standing on your dad’s feet). The real joy of the dance is not in the precision of your steps or the exhilaration of moment, but the joy and delight of the moving together with a trusted partner- one who accepts and loves me. This is what the dance with Jesus is all about. It is putting yourself in the Lord’s arms, following His steps, enjoying the music of life, and seeing His eyes greet you with love and acceptance. So dance then, wherever you may be, because the Lord of the dance will forever lead.
Pastor Mike Kotrla