Freedom is a Dancer

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NLT)

The Trinity is hard to understand. It’s far too complex to have been made up, and no where do we have it explained to us with any kind of absolute understanding. We’re faced with the fact there’s one God, and yet there is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They’re all different. But there’s only one God. Unity and Diversity. Three in One. How does this work? Well, there have been a lot of suggestions over the centuries. The latest prevailing attitude has been to see the Trinity as a hierarchy. The Father, then the Son, then the Spirit. But that’s not quite right, because there’s a lot of discussion in Scripture that doesn’t make it all that neat. The Father gives all his authority to the Son, who sends the Spirit, who had already sent the Son. It’s unusual.

Add to this the fact it’s not the kind of relationship we’re used to dealing with in organizations. They love each other. It’s the love and the relationship that is the bond. God is love. There’s no intimidation or manipulation or ambition or dissension. There’s just relationship. And this kind of relationship has been given a name. Perichoresis. Basically this is a big word to say something not that hard to understand, but almost impossible to live. Instead of being a hierarchy, the persons in the Trinity are continually circling around each other, interwoven, interdependent, interpenetrating. Or to put it more simply… the relationship is kinda like a dance.

When the idea of hierarchy really was getting attention it was thought that churches should be modeled on this. So, churches became about authority. From Father to Jesus to Apostles to Pope to Bishops to Priests to the People. Some churches are still like this either explicitly or implicitly.

Notice who is left out: The Holy Spirit. Paul tells us the Holy Spirit works in all of us, and makes a very interesting metaphor. We’re not a hierarchy. We’re a body. Yes, Jesus is the head. But we, the Church, are to be a body. Gathered together in unity, expressing the diversity of the Spirit who works through all of us in different ways. We too are a unity and diversity. However, we still aren’t comfortable with that.

The Trinity doesn’t have sin or ambition. We do. In our gathered communities we still tend to manipulate or seek authority or otherwise intimidate others and try to prove we’re somehow better. We all use the tools at our disposal to gain an advantage, stand out, and sometimes push others down and aside. We use the tools at our disposal to force order upon chaos, bring meaning out of confusion, give law to a supposed spiritual wild west. We’re not comfortable with the freedom that the Spirit brings. Because freedom sounds good in theory, but there’s all sorts of problems when faced with other people’s freedoms. And when we are faced with our own.
We intimidate and we manipulate, afraid of freedom. This leads to communities with wonderful vision statements and earnest beginnings hitting walls and breaking people down. We begin to tell others how they have to approach God and how they are allowed to dress, and learn, and communicate.

There is tension in life and we succumb to it, becoming slaves to an artificial standard. We seek to bring order to our own messy journeys by conforming to our chosen gurus and giving them demi-god status, raising them up as the very voices of God in our lives. We attach theology to such actions, capitalizing concepts in order to ward off challenge. All while moving farther and farther from the simple pleasure of dancing with God. Because we replace the Spirit with something more palpable. More immediate. More in keeping with what we feel we need and what we are used to. The Spirit doesn’t work in our timing or in our sense of propriety. So we hand Aaron our gold. He makes us a golden calf and calls it a church. We worship there and insist everyone worship there, dulled of light and inspiration.

Holding to a form of godliness but denying its power; with an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but without value in checking self-indulgence. Which is why there is so much bondage inside and out within those places we so eagerly seek the new life. We have been freed by Jesus only to then embrace a new slavery, plodding and heavy and constraining, for ourselves and for all those around us.

Where the Spirit is, there is freedom. The Spirit is like water and roots, digging deep, breaking us apart, moving and flowing into and through, no respecter of mere human traditions. The Spirit opens us up in new ways. Yet, these aren’t ways disconnected from a center. That’s the worry, isn’t it? That if we embrace freedom we will embrace chaos. Only, the Spirit’s dance isn’t about chaos, it’s about life and hope, constant growth and constant transformation. The Spirit’s dance isn’t about rules or about laws, but about holiness and depth. It is in the freedom we discover ourselves and in discovering ourselves we become so open to other people, embracing them rather than managing them. We begin to share with people rather than talk at them, revealing more and more of ourselves as we see more and more of those around us, no longer having to put on a show.

We dance. We sing. We fly. We hope. We live. Live in a freedom so profound that until we taste it we think it impossible.

Only it’s not.

It’s the very possibility of eternity awaiting us even in this moment.

It is Christ himself offering us his hand and asking, “Will you dance with me?”

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