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The God Who Dances

Jesus wept. It is the shortest verse in the Bible and perhaps one of the most telling. It occurred when Jesus was among a crowd of people who were mourning the death of a man named Lazarus. Overcome by emotion, Jesus joined their grief and suddenly burst into tears. His reaction confirms the Old Testament prophecy that he would be a man of grief and acquainted with sorrow. (Isaiah 53:3) However, it also reminds us of a truth that is difficult for us to understand. The God who created all things and reigns over his created order has emotions. He feels deeply about his creation and cares for mankind more than we can comprehend. The Lord almighty, who is high and lifted up, holy and distinct from all created beings, eternal in the heavens, feels the same range of emotions as mankind. God experiences anger, sorrow, joy, and a myriad of feelings. God is an emotional being.

Now, for some, this is a difficult concept to digest. Of the three elements that reflect the image of God in man; will, intelligence, and emotion, it is the latter that we fear the most. This is true for several reasons. Feelings are usually impossible to control. We are at our worst when suddenly overcome with emotion. We all tend to say and do things we regret after we have “cooled down.” The boomerang effect of all this is that we attempt to suppress our emotions and that is equally disastrous. A pressure cooker can only stand so much stress. God has created us emotional beings, meant to express passion and feeling.

The ancient Greeks separated their schools of thought into two categories: Epicureanism and Stoicism. The former emphasized the idea of eat, drink, and be merry, while the latter chose to refrain from any enjoyment or passion in life. Both extremes are to be rejected, and yet, Christianity, through the ages, has adopted the mentality of the stoic.

“The teaching of the New Testament presents the passion of life. Stoicism has come so much into the idea of the Christian life that we imagined a stoic is the best type of Christian; but just where Stoicism seems most like Christianity it is most adverse. The stoic overcomes the world by passionlessness, by eviscerating all personal interest out of life until he has a mirror submissive recording machine. Christianity overcomes the world by passion, not passionlessness.” (Oswald Chambers)

In contrast to this hollow approach to Christianity is a God who dances over his children. In the book of Zephaniah there is a passage that suggests just that. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) The term, “exult over you” in the Hebrew is to spin around with violence, literally to dance. The joy of God should be our joy. If he dances over his children, his chosen ones, should we not today be dancing for joy because he loves us.

At that time, I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the LORD.

Zephaniah 3:20

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