Because the Church, the Body of Christ, is still being fixed, there will be tears and imperfect people. But because it is being fixed there will be joy, laughter, smiles and dancing. This means that Christianity, the Kingdom of God, in its base is celebration and transformation. What it is not is a dusty, old, irrelevant, legalistic religion. And it is often confused as that when it is made to be what it is not. Christianity is the celebration of life being found. It is a celebration of the value of man and his redemption. It is the celebration of life being fixed and being made into what God intends it to be. It is a celebration of what is to come when the Kingdom comes in its fullness. When we truly realize what the Kingdom of God is, what redemption affords, what we overcome and have been delivered from, celebration will naturally follow. It will follow continually from the life that lives in the Kingdom and cause celebration when a person enters the Kingdom by their salvation. But the celebration is often missed. Without celebration, the Kingdom would become, and does become, a dusty and old religion. In this age that we live in now, this certainly does not mean that life will be easy, that “life” and its problems will not happen any longer, or that there will be no mourning or stress or trials or troubles. It simply means that we can have joy in the midst of all of it because of what is being done in, by and through the Kingdom. “Be joyful always…” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
In the midst of celebration and the life of joy, we must account for the process of transformation. This is discipleship. We must allow for imperfect people who are transforming, in others often slower than we want though its grace we personally want. In transformation there will be tears. Realization of sin, imperfection and sometimes the struggles of change. When we do not account for the process of transformation the Kingdom becomes an irrelevant and legalistic religion. The Church, the Body of Christ, is filled 100% with forgiven imperfect people. I must interact with others from the understanding that I am imperfect, though forgiven. I must interact with others from the understanding that they are imperfect, though forgiven. This makes no excuse for sin. But what it does is allows us to work together properly in the process of dealing with sin, which is one of the aspects of what transformation is about. It allows love to cover a multitude of sin. It allows iron to sharpen iron. It allows the Lord to forgive us as we forgive others. It allows us to work on the plank in our own eye. It allows us to receive mercy as we show mercy. It allows restoration after failure. And it allows continued celebration.
Luke 15:25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ A life found, a life being fixed. Music and dancing. Dancing that was heard before it was seen. Fellowship of food and community. The Kingdom is celebration.
Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” A sinner repents. A life being fixed. Angels celebrate. Let it be on earth as it is in heaven.
John chapter 2. The first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding. He turned water into wine, a better wine than had been already served. An extended celebration that he extended. A celebration that was full of smiles, laughter, dancing and joy. Jesus and his disciples were there. They were participating in the celebration. He would not have extended the celebration if he thought the celebration needed to stop. This first miracle is symbolic of what he was ushering in with the Kingdom. Symbolic in that all that he did afterwards, every miracle and everything he taught, what he did on the cross and through his resurrection, is about the celebration of lives being reconciled, lives being restored, new life given. After this, John records that Jesus made a whip. He didn’t go stop the celebration with the whip. He didn’t stop the dancing, the smiles, the laughter. The whip was for what was wrong in the temple. No whip would have been needed for the temple if it was full of expressions of joy because of the Kingdom.
I’ve been learning to re-think part of my image of Jesus a bit. Maybe because of the movies about him that I saw when I was young or the picture of him that hung in my parents’ house (his eyes followed you no matter where you walked in the room). In the movies and in this picture he is always stoic. No emotion. Very serious. Certainly things were this way as the cross approached. Certainly he was serious about his mission and did grieve for broken humanity. But it struck me that Jesus was probably joyful. He probably smiled and laughed a bit, maybe quite a bit. And at the wedding in Cana, I don’t think he sat there with a critical eye towards those celebrating, but probably danced and celebrated with them. After all, thats what the Kingdom produces that he ushered in.