My 1-year-old daughter loves to dance. It’s hardly choreography, but it’s definitely dancing. And she’s developed quite a repertoire. At the faintest suggestion of music she bounces and sways. And if “the rhythm is gonna getcha” she launches into her rapid-fire stomping, alternating feet and laughing with abandon. She has recently enticed me to the dance floor. She will grab my hands and lead me in her joyful swaying. Frankly, I am jealous of her. She hasn’t learned that uninhibited exuberance is frowned upon in “our circles.” Perhaps she never will.
This got me thinking about what we can learn about the imago Dei. Granted, my daughter loves to sin, too; and that much more than dancing. So any inherent innocence is stained by Adam’s two left feet. But as surely as my daughter has learned to sin without a teacher, does she also know to dance without a choreographer? Is celebration part of what it means to be God’s image-bearer?
She responds to love having yet to take a class on love. She naturally associates laughter with good things and crying means something is wrong. It is the image of God in her that learns certain things without being taught. Might we suppose the same with her dancing? Is celebration simply part of the human condition? Perverted by sin, yes, but still inherent in the imago Dei. We seem to know inherently that approval is met with celebration.
Dancing is woven into the fabric of biblical worship. Miriam led the dancing after the Exodus (Exod 15.20). David danced mightily when the Ark returned to its rightful place (2 Sam 6.14). Dancing replaces mourning (Ps 30.11). Dancing was the appropriate companion to singing (Ps 149.3). Solomon scheduled time for laughing and dancing as surely as weeping and mourning (Eccl 3.4). A father celebrated his wayward son’s return with dancing (Lk 15.25).
I suppose one could argue that because dancing is not formally reflected NT worship it is irrelevant. But, perhaps its absence is not because we shouldn’t dance, but because we do not know how to do so rightly. It is laced with provocative sin and lustful ambition. That’s not dancing’s fault.
So I think there will be much dancing in heaven. It’s part of what it means to be human and certainly part of what it means to be God’s. Though we may be works-in-progress, the seeds of celebration are already sown in us. And those seeds are now fertilized by the Spirit. We will take our two left feet to our grave, but one day we’ll awake twinkle-toed.
If my daughter reflects anything of what heaven will be like I can’t wait to get there. It seems she is already a long way ahead of me.