Chapter 14 tries to paint a picture of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit dancing together. Keller talks about how they all sort of dance around each other, each continually moving…interacting…serving…loving each other all the time. The ultimate plan is for us to enter into this dance with them. Nobody is in the center but everyone is working, supporting each other. It was kind of a cool example that I have never heard before. In order to dance, you and your partner need to move, to work together for the dance to work.
There were a few things that Keller summarized really nicely and I am not sure how to talk about each one to make them flow so I might just put in a whole bunch of quotes that I liked and talk about each one separately. Some of them are kind of long…think paragraphs but I really like them.
1.) “Why did Jesus die for us? What was Jesus getting out of it? Remember, he already had a community of joy, glory, and love. He didn’t need us. So what benefit did he derive from this? Not a thing. And that means that when he came into the world and died on the cross to deal with our sins, he was circling and serving us. “I (Jesus) have given them (us) the glory that you (God) gave me (Jesus).” (John 17). He began to do with us what he had been doing with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. He centers upon us, loving us without benefit to himself.”
So how does the dance fit in? Everyone is striving to serve and glorify the other. For us to join in, we need to serve and glorify Jesus. Jesus gave us tons of different examples of how to do this but we need to join in and do it. We can not just sit back and enjoy the ride but step up and change how we interact with people and the world around us.
Later in the epilogue when Keller questions if Jesus was a great teacher, a crazy man or really the Son of God. Remember that Jesus was famous for making statements like, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” And “My kingdom is not of this world” or “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Would a great teacher say these things? Probably not. Keller then states that “If Jesus was not a lunatic, then our only alternative is to accept his claims and center our entire lives around him. The one thing we have no right to do is to respond to him mildly.”
When we join in the dance with Jesus, we need to make sure we are doing our part and not just sitting on the sidelines thinking we do not need to do anything. We have to respond boldly. To say you believe in Jesus but then sit on the sidelines is not truly believing and following Jesus. Even the demons believed and knew that Jesus was God. We can believe but we are also called to follow Jesus, get off the sidelines and follow. Jesus wants to partner with us to make the most beautiful dance possible but we have to get up.
2.) “Are you getting into Christianity to serve God, or to get God to serve you? The latter is a kind shamanism, an effort to get control of God through your prayers and practices. It is using God rather than trusting him.
We have to recognize that virtually all of us begin our journey toward God because we want something from him. However, we must come to grips with the fact that we owe him our entire lives just because of what he has done for us already. He is our Creator, and for that fact alone we owe him everything. However, he is also our Redeemer, who rescued us at infinite cost to himself. Any heart that has come to its senses wants to surrender to Someone who not only is all-powerful but has proved that he will sacrifice anything for our good.
We usually begin the journey towards God thinking, “What do I have to do to get this or that from him?” but eventually we have to begin thinking, “What do I have to do to get him?” If you don’t make that transition, you will never actually meet the real God, but will only end up believing in some caricature version of him.”
In the above quote, it would seem that this is a linear process but looking back at my life, I would have to admit I think it is circular. Some times in my life I have asked God what I can do for Him, how can I best glorify Him and sadly to say a few months later I can be asking God, “Why can’t you do this for me?” I think it just shows me that our relationship with Jesus is an on-going one. You can not get to a point in your faith walk where you are done, where you don’t have to work on the relationship. I might know who and what God did for me but I need to also make sure I am trying to know Him better so that I know how my life fits into His plans.
A woman in Keller’s congregation complained that she had prayed, “God, help me find you,” but wasn’t finding a thing. Someone suggested she changed her prayer to “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” Keller stated that God did find her. Sometimes we try on our own to do it our way, even though it might just be our attempt to find God. God really just wants us to rely on Him. We need to be open for what God has in store for us, open to the plans He has for us. He will lead us, if we let Him.
3.) “The repentance that really changes your heart and your relationship with God begins when you recognize that your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins, is your self-salvation project. ….. in both our bad deeds and in our good deeds we are seeking to be our own Saviors and Lords……. We try to prove ourselves by our moral goodness or through achievement or family or career. Even diligent involvement in church and religion may need to be repented of once we understand that it was all a way to put God and others in our debt.”
I like this one because I think many times we do things at our church thinking that makes us look good but God knows our hearts, He knows if we are doing it for the right reason.