A long time ago I read a science fiction short story about a world where the government enforced “equality” by making people with good eyesight wear glasses with smudges, people who were beautiful had to wear masks (so not to make ugly people feel bad), people who were smart wore a hearing aid that buzzed loudly so they couldn’t keep track of what they were thinking, people who were strong had to wear weights on their arms and legs. Finally one man ripped off his mask and weights and a ballerina’s mask and weights and they were finally free to dance with the grace and freedom and joy that they had always longed for.
Although that writer was probably just wanting to make a satirical political statement, he actually was describing our world. All of us are born enslaved to sin (Romans 6:17), and even after we receive the new birth we still struggle with sin. I have wounds, clouded thinking, selfish desires, & sinful patterns of behavior that are just like the masks and weights and smudged glasses of the protagonist of that story. And unfortunately, so do you, and so does everyone else on this planet. And as we try to relate to each other, whether in business or church or as friends or spouses or parents, we stumble and trip and often end up knocking each other down instead of dancing with freedom and grace.
That’s why the perichoresis is precious to me. Perichoresis is an ancient theological term that I have written about before that describes the perfect love and harmony and relationship that exists between the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit as like a dance. Before the universe was created, God both knew and experienced life— a life of perfect community and relationship. The Trinity perfectly knew, perfectly loved, perfectly related, perfectly experienced. And this experience was not just some static frozen stare, like three statues cast for eternity in cold concrete. The experience of the Trinity was and is and forever will be the most dynamic, joyful, and expressive relationship not only that is, but that could ever possibly be. There is no human way to imagine it, but dance probably does come the closest.
Why is knowing this about God so precious to me? Because God has invited me into His eternal dance. That is why God created the universe, to create children that could see His glory and His love and His perichoresis, and in seeing Him would treasure Him, and could become one with Him and one with each other. This was Christ’s prayer for us before He was crucified:
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:21-24)
This is the hope that the apostles have also given us, that one day we will be stripped of all the weights and sins of this life and be able to see and love Christ and see and love each other in ways we now can not even dream of:
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Every relationship that I experience now is a mixture of sweet and bitter, as misunderstanding, mistakes, hurts, and selfishness are always present to some degree. But one day that will all be past: all relationships will be healed, and not only healed but experienced in a freedom and grace and joy that we can now not even conceive. And the dance will continue to grow in sweetness forever, relating to the Trinity and to each other. That, truly, is the hope of heaven.
But there is more than heaven that is precious about the perichoresis, for God wants us to start dancing now. Through being one body in Christ, through the regeneration and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can start today to dance. We can love, we can forgive, we can serve, we can laugh, we can grow in holiness, because we know who we are, who God is, and what heaven will be like. The verse after 1 John 3:2 says “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.” And the verses after 2 Peter 1:3-4 tell us:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
“For this very reason”— because we have God’s promises, we have the desire and the power to grow in love and holiness as we dance the never-ending dance of being the children of God. Hear the music. Dance today.