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| The Reason for God|
Chapter 14 : The Dance of God!
December 4, 2016
Hello to another beautiful day that has been given to us by God! Today, we continue our book, The Reason for God – Belief in an Age of Skepticism, by the author Timothy Keller. And we look at the last chapter, chapter fourteen, The Dance of God.
Another difficulty that many people have difficulty with is the doctrine of the Triune God, or the doctrine of the Trinity. Christianity teaches that God is triune. We refer to this as the doctrine of the Trinity of God, which exists in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. And when we read the accounts in the book of John, we see the relationship of all three. In John 1:18, it tells us that the Son has been from all eternity living in the “bosom of the Father.” Later it tells us that Jesus, the Son, describing the Spirit as living to “glorify” him. In which the Son glorifies the Father and the Father, the Son. This has been going on for all eternity.
To glorify something or someone is to praise, enjoy and delight in them. This is the common definition that we all know. However, to glorify someone is also to serve or defer to him or her. Instead of sacrificing their interests to make ourselves happy, we sacrifice our interests in order to make them happy. This is because our ultimate joy is to see them in joy.
As we can see, the Trinity is characterized as a mutual self-giving love. To relate it to us, when we delight and serve someone else, we enter into an orbit around him or her, we center on their interests and desires. In a sense, this creates a dance. And likewise, each divine persons center upon the other. None demands that the others revolve around him. Each voluntarily circles the other two, pouring love, delight, and adoration into them.
If, however, there is no God, then everything in and about us is the product of blind impersonal forces. The experience of love may feel significant, but evolutionary naturalists tell us that it is merely a biochemical state in the brain.
So what about the flip side? What if there is a God? The problem then is on who you think God is. If God is unipersonal, then until God created other beings there was no love, since love is something that one person has for another. This means that a unipersonal God would still be powerful, sovereign, and great from all eternity, but not love. Love then is not of the essence of God, nor is it at the heart of the universe.
However, if God is triune, then God really has love as his essence. If he was just one person he couldn’t have been loving for all eternity. If he was only the impersonal all-soul as Eastern theology believed, he couldn’t have been loving, for love is something persons do. Eastern religions believe the individual personality is an illusion, and therefore love is too. However, as Chesterton writes, “For the Buddhist… personality is the fall of man, for the Christian it is the purpose of God, the whole point of his cosmic idea.” It is the purpose of God because he is essentially, eternally, interpersonal love.
In Christianity, we believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. We were made for mutually self-giving, other-directed love. And self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made. This is seen in the community that we have. Many times, we are able to really find ourselves when we are in committed relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean a girlfriend or a wife, but even with friends and family. If you lived with the whole idea that the world must revolve around you, whether intentional or unintentional, then you would be out of touch with our own nature and the nature that God has set for us.
Now, you may rebuttal that last paragraph by stating that on nearly every page of the Bible God calls us to glorify, praise, and serve him. How then could we say he doesn’t seek his own glory.
However, if this is our rebuttal we have completely missed the whole idea. Yes he does ask us to obey him unconditionally, to glorify, to praise, and to center our lives around him. But He does so because He wants our joy! He has infinite happiness, not through self-centeredness, but through self-giving, other-centered love. And the only way we, who have been created in His image, can have this same joy is if we center our entire lives around Him instead of ourselves. Why did God create us? As world-renowned theologian Jonathan Edwards tells us, it is because God wanted to extend that perfect internal communication of the triune God’s goodness and love. God’s joy and happiness and delight in divine perfections is expressed externally by communicating that happiness and delight to created beings. God created us in order to share that infinite joy! We were made to join in on the dance the Trinity were having, not to praise and view it only from a distance. God created us to be participants not an audience!
However, ever since the Fall of man, we have not been able to participate in this dance. This is because we didn’t center our love around God anymore, but around ourselves. Adam and Eve, and many of us, delight in the idea of becoming a god, which is the self-centeredness that allowed for Adam and Eve to fall into sin and fall away from God. Instead of orbiting ourselves around God and glorifying Him, we wanted for God to orbit around us. And unfortunately, this self-centered mind has been passed on from generation to generation. We can even look at our own relationships and there is always, at least, a hint of self-centeredness. Instead of mutually loving the partner and glorifying them, we want to be glorified and loved. Humanity’s refusal to serve God has led to our alienation from the natural world as well. And we cannot possibly have the same mutual-love that the Trinity has.
However, out of God’s love for us, he did not leave us alone. He sent the Son of God to be born into the world to begin a new humanity, a new community of people who could lose their self-centeredness, begin a God-centered life, and slowly but surely have all other relationship put right as well. Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam.” As the first Adam was tested in the Garden of Eden, the last Adam, Jesus, was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The first Adam knew that he would live if he obeyed God about the tree but he didn’t. The last Adam was also tested by what Paul called the a “tree,” the Cross. Jesus knew that he would be crushed if he obeyed His Father. And He still did.
But why? Why did Jesus die for us? Let us remember that Jesus is part of the Trinity and he already had a community of joy, glory, and love. He did not need to come into the world and die on the cross to deal with our sins. He could have very much so left us all alone to wither away into eternal punishment. However, Jesus did something totally different. John 17 tells us what Jesus intended to do. “I have given them the glory that you gave me.” He began o do with us what he had been doing with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. He centers upon us, loving us without any benefit to Himself.
Jesus is inviting us to get out of our own self-centeredness and fear into a trust relationship with Him. When Jesus died for us he was inviting us into that loving dance that he shared with the Holy Spirit and the Father. And even now He invites us to center everything in our lives on him, even as he has given himself up for us. We are invited to put our lives on a whole new foundation. We can make him the new center of our lives and stop trying to be our own Savior and Lord. We can accept both his challenge to recognize ourselves as sinners in need of his salvation, and his renewing love as the new basis of our identity. Then we don’t need to prove ourselves to others. We won’t need to use others to bolster our fragile sense of pride and self-worth. And we will be enabled to move out towards others as Jesus has moved towards us.
This concludes chapter 14, The Dance of God, in which I hope you have been able to understand the love of the Trinity and the reason as why He created us and the reason why God has sent His Son to come down to earth to die for our sins. God truly is the God of Love and it is out of the self-giving love that He created us and is now bringing salvation to us. We have received the invitation to center our lives around Jesus Christ. And hopefully we have been given the conviction to accept that invitation and to live our lives around God!