Dancing In the Kingdom – Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom – Chapter 1 – Prelude
As I was working one warm summer night at a convenience store with the door open, it was not unexpected to see a moth fly in through the door. Normally, moths are attracted to light sources, but this time the moth was attracted to the white top of a garbage container. The moth was distracted by the light reflected off the garbage container. I think that describes a lot of human behavior; we get distracted by the pretty garbage.
In the meantime, there is a story that began long ago when God brought into being creatures made in his image, a story about his plans for those creatures, plans for them to fill the earth and making the whole earth a place of love and goodness, but a place where that love and goodness would be disrupted by our rebellion. Fortunately, that disruption did not deter God from continuing his plans for his image-bearing creatures and that story is still in the making. That story is now our story.
For too many people, even Christians, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible can seem disconnected. Some people have even proposed that the God described in the Old Testament is different from the God in the New Testament. This is partly due to the issue of the cultural barriers between us and the Old Testament. One purpose of this book is to show the unity of both Testaments, how they help make sense of each other and how together they make one cohesive story, a story into which we can fit.
There is a further disconnect. Between us and the biblical writings is the long and messy history of the Church. The Church seems very divided on how to interpret those writings and how to live into them. It is downright confusing to sort out all the various interpretations and practices that seem to contradict one another. How is one supposed to make sense of it all?
This book’s purpose then, is to not just overview the Biblical story from Creation to Revelation, but to show how we, as part of God’s Church, are intended to participate. God did not need to create us or the universe, He did it out of a desire to share his love and delight. God’s creation was more an act of play than of work and He desires that we actively play with him, if you will, to dance with him in His Kingdom.
The Kingdom Dance is not meant to be a solo effort, we are to dance with God and with his people. To that end, while this book can simply be read as a solo exercise, there are additional ways to engage with the material.
- Biblical references are provided extensively through the book. They are there to support the text. If you read them, take the time to slow down and let God the Spirit speak to you. The Bible has been described as ancient Jewish Meditation Literature. It is best read when you give yourself time to absorb it.
- There are extensive footnotes throughout the book. Whenever possible, I have provided hyperlinks to make the additional materials easily available to you. If you spend time investigating the footnotes, you will notice that I am not drawing from only one Christian tradition, but from a variety of them, allowing the richness of the different traditions to form a more complete story. To form a more complete story I also, particularly in the beginning, will use materials from the “Second Book of God” that is, book of Creation.
“God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”
- For those who are not practiced in studying the Bible, Appendix A gives a summary of techniques that could be used to help understand scripture. This may prove useful for understanding when you study the Biblical references given throughout this book.
- Reading the material with a group can make the most impact. The Dancing in the Kingdom Workbook provides exercises and questions to help process the material as a group. These exercises and questions will help you engage with the material by first asking you to think about how each section applies to your life and secondly to share your thoughts with others in the group so that together you can more thoughtfully “Enter the Dance” with God, with all the others that have come before, with those that are coming now and with that will continue to come until Heaven and Earth are reunited.
- Finally, the best participation will be not to just read and reflect, but to dance the Kingdom dance with God. The last chapters of this book will suggest ways to take part in his activity in bringing healing to the world he loves, broken now but to be finally fully restored when He rejoins heaven and earth.
The Bible is a complex collection of literature, using many literary styles and techniques and it can be difficult to understand some parts, particularly when one part seems to contradict another part. I have found a useful principal in studying the Bible which I call “Conflicts are clues” which says that any apparent conflict or confusion in Scripture should be handled as clues to look further instead of thinking that the conflicts create contradictions which reduce the integrity of the Bible.
In our age, many regard science and theology to be in conflict. In years past, however, the issue was not about conflict but about which discipline rules over or undergirds all the other disciplines. These ideas were expressed in ways such as “theology is the queen of all sciences,” “math is the queen of all sciences,” “philosophy is the queen of all sciences,” “philosophy is the handmaid of all sciences.”
The biblical perspective is that God speaks to us both through two books, the book of Creation and the Bible. Theology’s main goal is to understand spiritual reality and science’s main goal is to understand physical reality, but both fields can inform the other about the nature of God.
This principle of “Conflicts are Clues” applies not just to the “First Book of God” (that is, Scripture) but also to the “Second Book of God” (that is, Creation) which is practiced by the testing and revisions of theories, but also between the Two Books. During the course of history, the study of the Two Books got separated and some of those in science rejected Scripture and some of those who were Christian rejected science, leaving conflicts unresolved as contradictions. But moving forward, this does not prevent us from considering apparent conflicts between the books as clues to be investigated further.
 Bible Project “Ancient Jewish Meditation Literature” Bible Project bibleproject.com/explore/video/bible-jewish-meditation-literature-h2r/
 Rusbult, Craig. “How should we interpret the Two Books of God, in Scripture & Nature” American Scientific Affiliation http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/two-books.htm
 Bacon, Francis. “The Two Books of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human.” The First Book. Section.VI.Paragraph.16 1605
Look at the four videos you can find at bibleproject.com/explore/category/how-to-read-bible-introduction/ for an overview of the Bible. How do these videos help you understand the larger context of the Bible?
Read 2 Timothy 3:14-16; Hebrews 4:12-13; Romans 15:1-6; 2 Peter 1:19-21. What is the purpose of the Bible?