Made To Do What? Part 3

What else is there for the creature called human to do? Thinking and working (including, of course, caring for bodily needs), cover a wide array of mental and physical activity; and they cover the greater part of what many people believe to be the distinguishing marks of our species.

But it is also true that many of those same people feel unfulfilled in their thinking and doing. What’s missing? What is there that we were made to do, without which we cannot truly thrive? The answer, I suggest, could very well be divided into two parts, but I am combining them because I believe them to be inseparable. The pieces may be summarized by the terms representing and worshipping; the whole of which they are parts is dancing. Yes, that begs for explanation.

Representing has to do with the manner in which we go about our thinking and our working; it is imitation of the Creator that humans are to go about the business of continuing the work given to them. We look and we respond according to what we see and hear. We act toward other creatures in a way consistent with the One who made both them and us; we take great care in what we do, acting in a stewarding capacity. There is one toward whom we gaze in order to do rightly the tasks he has given, whether in finding that good gold in Havilah or in artistically representing what we see in the work of our hands. In order to represent Him, we must see God, and we see Him in the fellowship of worship—the reverent passing of time in His presence. Passing, not wasting. Investing that precious commodity, not killing it.

Why do I refer to this as dancing? There is a term used in the ancient church to express the trinitarian relationships of persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. The term is perichoresis, in which one can see a portion of our word choreography. It was used to speak about how the Father and Son and Spirit interact with one another. As in a dance, partners respond to one another, moving together yet separately, the dance being at once a unitary movement, yet only as the result of what each participant contributes to and receives from the others. In creating people in the image of God—a trinity, not a solitary person—we too were made to act and be acted upon, to initiate and respond, to create something in union with others that is far richer than solitary existence. “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

We were made to dance with God himself, an astounding concept, but one confirmed by Jesus in his High Priestly Prayer in John 17. His express desire is that we be drawn into the unity which he knew “from the beginning,” and longed to return to and longed to bring us into. We were intended to create as God creates, and to offer, in union with others, the gifts we produce from this earth—towers, jetliners, concertos, and poetry; gardens, houses, love songs, and paintings—and offer them back to Him, receiving His smile and nod of joyful approval, returning us to make even more, even better things from the earth.

All of this set before we us; but we refused the dance.

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5 thoughts on “Made To Do What? Part 3

  1. Thanks, Dr. Miller. Two things: My husband’s brother married into a Greek Orthodox family. I had the privilege of attending their wedding and the Baptism of their first child at a large and ornate Greek Orthodox church in Pittsburgh. I mention this because part of their wedding ceremony involved actually dancing in a circle (three times around to represent the Trinity). It was a living example of the dancing among the persons of the Trinity that you described. My husband still comments that that was the most beautiful ceremony he has ever seen.

    Also, I wonder if you could give us the names of the books you used for the Theology of Work class. I am very interested in this topic. Thanks.

  2. Your comments are very insightful and appreciated. You are quite right, the concept that we were made to dance with God is an incredible thought. Moreover, I sense a nuance in the language that our dance with God is not individualistic as much as corporate; to dance with God includes our dancing with each other. Thus, the liturgy is the script and/or the “steps” for our interaction with the Holy Trinity and each other.

    • Yes, Kirby! The Orthodox would delight at your comment regarding the liturgy. Summons and response; confession and absolution; gospel and celebration. There are many directions to go from here; ideally, following them is what theology is all about.

  3. “We were made to dance with God himself …” — that thrills my soul. And Jen’s comments made me think of the Methodist worship service at my college. The chaplain particularly enjoyed a song called “Lord of the Dance” (nothing to do with Michael Flatley) and we occasionally held hands and danced in a circle while singing it. I was not a Christian at the time, but the memory always makes me smile.

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