The Music and the Dance

Girl Dancing
For some time now both at my church, Christ Community in Daytona Beach Florida, and at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, I’ve used a metaphor that applies to both preaching and the Christian life.

Imagine a large house in which both deaf and hearing people are all living together. As you look into this house you see a man sitting in a room with an Ipod, he’s tapping his foot rhythmically and snapping his fingers and his body is swaying. You know what’s happening. He’s listening to music and obviously enjoying himself. His whole body wants to respond to the music he is hearing.

A deaf man opens the door and enters the room he sees this man and walks over to him and begins watching. He thinks to Himself, “He seems to be enjoying himself, I think I’ll try that too.” So the deaf man sits down next to the first man and begins to imitate him. Awkwardly and haltingly at first, he tries to snap his fingers, tap his feet and move like the man next to him. After a little practice the deaf man slowly begins to snap and sway pretty much in time with the first man just from watching and trying. But even though he gets fairly good at keeping in time he shrugs and says to himself, “It’s not as much fun as it looks.”

Someone seeing these two men might think both men are doing the same thing and not notice subtle differences. But is there a difference? Absolutely! The first man hears the music and all his actions are in response to and expressive of the music that he hears. The deaf man is only imitating the outward actions. As a result he doesn’t enjoy it much, he might not keep it up very long and he will never really do it as well as the one who hears the music.

The point of the analogy is to illustrate an important truth about the Christian life. It’s an illustration of the point that Paul is making in Galatians 5:6. The Scripture here says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

The dance, the movement, is the Christian life. Galatians 5:6 sums it up with one word: Love. Jesus said that is the whole law of God can be summed up as love for God and love for others. The Christian life of love for God and love for others is the dance.

What is the music that inspires the dance? The music is the reality of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ and the gospel. Sometimes people approach the Christian life as if all that matters is getting the moves right, there are certain steps that you have to learn, there are rules and rituals to master but that is not all that matters, the truth is you cannot dance the dance well unless you are listening to the music.

Faith is receiving the music. Faith is listening to the music, letting its rhythm, beauty and power move you so that you live a life of love. That’s why faith is so crucial, not just at the beginning of the Christian life but all through the Christian life. Galatians 5:6 says that it is faith, that expresses itself in love. Faith is listening to the music of the love of God in Christ, and then allowing the response of your whole self to become the dance, the life of love for God and others to which he calls us. It is God who choreographed the dance we call the Christian life but God also composed the music that inspires the dance. He wants the music of the gospel to inspire and empower us as we live our lives as Christians. In Ephesians 3:16-19 Paul speaks about this same Christ-centered, or gospel-centered dynamic in the Christian life when he says, I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

In all of our preaching, teaching, counseling and living of the Christian life we need the music and the dance. It’s never one or the other but both. We need to be deeply receiving the life-giving power of the love of God in the gospel. We also need to be responding to the love of God with our whole selves by dancing the dance of faith-inspired love and obedience for God and others.

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~ by Larry Kirk on February 6, 2008.

10 Responses to “The Music and the Dance”

  1. I sure think this is key. It seems like after so many years as a Christian, we can easily mimic the “moves” of the dance, and actually quit listening to the music…and few around us would know the difference. I’m very thankful that you (Larry) are keenly aware of all of this, and bring this gospel to bear on our church.

  2. Larry, I’m thrilled to find that you are blogging my friend! And I’m especially encouraged by how the rich Gospel lyrics you’ve been faihfully proclaiming at Christ Community Church (as pastor) and Reformed Seminary (as professor) for so many years will now be available to a broader audience (including me) leading all of us into a deeper experience of both the music and the dance. I look forward to how this blog will help me better understand the gospel lyrics and hear the music so that I will dare to dance like no one is looking.

  3. Thanks Steve, the gospel-centered foundation of Global Church Advancement fits perfectly with these themes and fills an important void when it comes to training church-planters. I came across this quote recently, “Year after year we watch as highly gifted Christian leaders shipwreck their lives, families ministries, and businesses. What they lack is an examined and healthy inner life. This is the missing piece in leadership today.” (Leadership From The Inside Out, Kevin Harney p. 17) This reminds me of your course at RTS on “Spiritual Dynamics For Leaders”. We love what your doing to train church planters and raise church planting networks and we’re glad to be a part of it.

  4. Larry – The blogging world will be blessed by your addition and emphasis on the gospel. Glad to see you jump in!

  5. Well said Pastor. With permission I’d like to share this (linked) online.

  6. Sure Desirae! I’m glad you found it. Peace.

  7. Larry,

    Dan MacDonald here from Toronto, Canada. We met at RTS and again @ a DG conference when we were leaving Eastside CC in Jax to come to Canada. Things are well here; glad to have found you. Planting is good but tough work. I will catch up with you later; godspeed.

  8. Hey Dan, I remember you – hope you are well.

  9. Found your blog today and just had to comment because I am deaf! I am not so deaf that I cannot hear the music even if what I hear does not have the nuance that you might hear. In fact, I love music and can be found driving down the road with music blaring out of the car!!

    But that’s not what you’re actually talking about is it!? I see people in Church sometimes that are clearly just “snapping their fingers” when they don’t really know or understand what they are doing – how long do you think it takes for them to understand enough that they will come back and not feel out of place, or will they always feel a little bit out of sync?

  10. Hey Sam, thanks for commenting and being so gracious! I have often wondered if my analogy regarding the music and the dance might be offensive or if I fail to understand something about being deaf. I’m glad it didn’t keep you from seeing and appreciating the point. As to your question, I am just not sure but I hope in my ministry to help people to truly hear and enjoy the music of the gospel. I think God works in many ways to bring people to the place where the beauty and power of the love of God in Christ truly becomes the music that moves them in the dance of life. If you have any suggestions as to how I can improve my analogy in light of your experience, I’d love for you to help me with this. Peace.

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