|The Dance of Living: trusting and living Christianly|
Dissonance in the Bible revised
Life, death, life revised
is first or primary?
Abraham Lincoln never joined a church. He reportedly said that when he found a church that placed upon its altar Jesus words to love God and love neighbor as its only requirement for membership, that church he would join.
Am I a neighbor?
John Dominic Crossan suggests that when Jesus praised the third one, the crowd would have been noisily angry — one of those people the hero?
A Pasadena, California, pastor named Karl Downs noticed that a Black teen student who had been doing very well in school was beginning to mix with gangs, and his grades were dropping. Downs noticed, he talked with him, befriended him, and after school they practiced athletics, until he again was a good student. He got an athletic scholarship at UCLA and lettered in every sport he tried. When Branch Rickey searched for a gifted athlete with the necessary resolve and character to break the color bar in baseball, Rickey selected that man — Jackie Robinson.
Being a neighbor is shown in the gutsiness of the civil rights movements of the 1960s in which thousands of men, women, children demanded and secured their rights against a hostile entrenched dominant power. Different religions inspired and motivated both sides; one religion was domineering, the other liberating.
The two religious passerbys
It is relatively easy to take care of an injured neighbor you know. Love for one we do not know is willed by the lover, while usually love is attracted by who we love. For some sensitive Jews and Christians during the civil rights struggle, it meant going to Montgomery and other places in the South to work on behalf of people they did not know. They were being neighbors in the best sense, and some were brutally murdered for their efforts.
Being a neighbor is done by groups; in the civil rights struggles of the 60's people teamed up. Churches must be neighbors. Nations are called to be neighbors, as Amos, Isaiah, and others made clear in the Old Testament.
Notice that Jesus said little about what we believe — the beliefs or doctrines or propositions that some say we are supposed to believe. Jesus told us to love God, to trust God. Trust between persons is our most human quality that we learn as children. It builds relationship with others; it enables us to develop trust in God. If you are confused about what we should believe, click here.
Someone said heaven and hell are the same; in both each person arriving is given a very long fork and led to heaping plates of food. In hell everyone is trying to find how to use that long fork to reach their own mouth, while in heaven they are feeding each other.
Jesus told us to regard other persons as we think about ourselves. We are to thoughtfully regard the needs and problems of others as we do ours. Being neighborly purposefully does for others what we do for ourselves. Our check stubs or check card receipts tell what we really care about — what matters most to us!
A provocative movie decades ago showed a young person who tried to get her church to work for the migrants who lived on the edge of town, while she was busy helping them. But at the end of the film she said, "I was doing it because I hated the dirt, and not because I loved the people." Always ask her question, why am I being neighborly?
Some people are really unlovely and unlovable, obnoxious and hateful. Some social systems are cruel and unjust. We are enabled to be neighborly because God is neighborly to us; God reaches out to us in Christ. God walked in our moccasins so as to learn what we really experience. In Christ God feels the hell and tyranny of hurting social systems. God comes to share with us grace to change systems and change ourselves.
The Dance of Living
The Dance of Living also suggests order, movement, and harmony. Some dances are very graceful and beautiful. Others are dissonant, jerky, harsh. When bad things happen to good people, we feel dissonance, we feel life is harsh. The Dance of Living offers us grace and beauty even in the ugliest of life.
The Dance of Living reminds us of the troupe of dancers the church. The troupe works to fix its failings, supports one another, and helps one another perfect the vision of the artistic director. Working together, the troupe begins to show us what the church is to be.
The Dance of Living points to the One who choreographs and who coaches us as we work to learn the complexities of the Dance of Living so we interact constantly with the other dancers and with the Choreographer.
Copyright © 2004, 2012 John F. Yeaman