Recap: How to become God’s Beloved
I shared a quote from Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved – then how to apply it to our lives daily. It’s the ABC D & E of claiming and appropriating our Belovedness in Christ in a practical way: Accept, Believe, Confess, and Daily Explore your identity as God’s Beloved child. How are you doing with practicing the ABC D&E ? Now we explore the beautiful Trinitarian Dance of Love. My purpose is to give you THE BIG PICTURE that will ravish your heart and draw you into God’s love and explode you outwards in love.
The Trinity as the Dance of Love
God is The Eternal Community of Love: the Lover (Father), the Be-Loved (Son) and the Love (Spirit). God’s internal or intra-Trinitarian love between the Father and Son by the Spirit eternally explodes outwards in ecstasy, creating the other (creation) in love, for love. Human beings are the climax and pinnacle of creation, made in the Trinitarian image and likeness, to rule and reign over God’s creation in love, by love, for love. Who God is in the heavens (as Trinitarian Love) is imaged on earth in male and female being one with God, each other and creation – an ever-expanding inclusive Dance of Love.
The Eastern Greek Church Fathers used perichoresis from the 4th century to describe the Trinity in his/her internal and external relationships of love. Greek choreo means inter-penetrate, mutually indwell, co-inhere – becoming one without absorption as in loss of identity or personality. God’s love enfolds and unites, simultaneously differentiating and maturing each person in their uniqueness, as they become one. This idea/reality was grounded in John’s Gospel – see references below. From the 9th century choreo became associated with choreia, to dance (English: “chorus”) – the image of the ‘dancing around’ of the Trinity came into use to explain the beautiful mystery of the Perichoresis.
The Greek Fathers grounded perichoresis in the mutual indwelling of the Father and Son in John 14:10, 19-20, 23: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home (dwelling) with (in) them.” This is a most beautiful mystery of profound intimacy in a perfect oneness or dance of love. As Yeats says in his poem Among School Children:
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance
How can we know the dancer from the dance?”
Jesus prays that we would experience – live in and from – that same reality with the Father. And his primary purpose is SO THAT the world may see, know and believe the love of the Father (the RAP on John 17:21-26): “I pray, Father, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them…That they may be one as we are one, you in me and I in you, and they in us in a unity of oneness – completed in your (our) love – SO THAT the world may know and believe you sent me to save them and that you have loved them just as you have loved me.”
In Summary: The Circles in the Dance of Love
John’s Gospel – appropriately coming from ‘the Beloved disciple’ – has four overlapping reciprocating circles of relational love.
The Father-Son love: The ‘First Love’ to which we are ALL called, “we love because he first loved us” (1John 4:19). The Father-Son love is the model and means, the mission and goal, of ALL love, of all consequent circles of dancing love. Jesus was profoundly conscious of the Father’s love: “The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he does” (5:20). And he equally loved the Father: “The world must learn that I love the Father and do exactly what he has commanded me” (14:31).
The Son-disciple love: Demonstrated the Father-Son love, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you, abide in my love” (15:9). Greek kathos (“As”) is the standard (model) and the source (enabling) of love; i.e. Jesus loved his disciples with – by the power of – his Father’s love, which Jesus humanly experienced as a constant outpouring of intimate companionship and love in every moment, in every event, of every day (8:16, 29, 16:32).
The disciple-disciple love: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another…” Again we have kathos (“as”); we love one another by the model and enabling of his love. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for our sisters and brothers” (1John 3:16).
And the disciple-world love: Loving people in the world, not loving the world itself (the things of this world). We love people and use things, NOT the other way round! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (3:16). Jesus prayed, “That the world may know and believe you sent me and have loved them as you have loved me” (17:23). It all comes down to us (Christ’s followers) to demonstrate THIS love for and to the world – enfolding people into the Father-Son love – caught up into the inclusive ever-outward-expanding Dance of Love, to the ends of all created reality!