Lutheran Church Extension Fund

As the Spirit leads, we're learning to dance.

Monthly theme: Receptivity.

Reading time: two minutes.

Painting footprints on the floor is part of learning to dance, but dancing really happens when it flows from the heart.

Learn the steps with your brain and your feet, then learn to glide across the floor as your dance partner takes the lead.

Receptivity to the Word of God is a little bit like that dance.

Reading and studying God’s Word requires our best hermeneutical efforts: careful attention to the words, the language, the context, and the analogy of Scripture. But being shaped by the Word is more than a sterile intellectualism. It also means joining into the new way of life that’s depicted in the inspired Word of the Lord.

Christians are diligent in their careful reading of the Word and suspicious about the mindless enthusiasm of following every whim and fancy of emotion that’s stirred by the powerful stories of God’s work in the lives of his saints.

Learning to live as followers of Jesus means receptivity to the way God shapes both our thinking and our doing, our minds and our wills, as the Spirit works, shaping and molding us as his living bearers of the Word to the world.

Maybe our Orthodox sisters and brothers in the faith have a lesson for us here.

Many of Orthodoxy’s artistic icons of the faith show an interesting feature. Objects in the background are often larger than objects in the foreground. Usually when we see a painting, objects get smaller and smaller as they move farther away in the picture.

Icons reverse the perspective. They put us right into the picture. Objects get smaller as they get closer and the focus finally becomes us!

We’re not observers; we’re participants.

The Scripture is like that. It’s the story of saints who learned to dance the dance of the Spirit. Their transformed lives, transformed from the dance of the world to the dance of the kingdom, is intended as an invitation.

Not an invitation to just watch the dance, but to join in.

And it doesn’t even matter how many left feet you have. None of us are adept at dancing the dance of the saints, but our dance partner, God the Holy Spirit, knows how to lead people with clown feet like ours.

When Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, there were two kinds of people listening. There were those who understood the words he was saying in their brains, but with their wills resisted the invitation.

I think of Pharisees and teachers of the law. Or the Rich Young Man who knew all the rules of the Scriptures, but couldn’t join the dance by letting go of his treasure for the greater joy of following the Lord.

Receptivity to the Word recognizes that God is up to something in our lives.

He’s been leading his people on this journey of faith for centuries.

The Bible describes ordinary people who left an old order of being, of living, and of serving for a new adventure of life by the Spirit.

And the story continues. Enjoy the dance.

(Thanks to M. Robert Mulholland and Shaped by the Word for his help).

And thanks for reading.