Watching God’s dance partners is the best way to learn about dancing with God. I hope we all have individuals around us who live as Jesus lived, observing what God is doing and responding with their small parts. For now, let’s watch Philip and Peter in the book of Acts.
Both men were already dancing with God. Philip, known as a Spirit-filled servant, had taken good news to Samaria (Acts 8:5-25). He had his gospel dance shoes on (Eph. 6:15). Peter, of course, was dancing too. To become dancers we must simply begin dancing, and improve as we go. Don’t wait to know everything.
In Acts 8:26 an angel sends Philip to the Gaza road—a cue from God. Philip did whatever it took to get there and then noticed a carriage. The Spirit prompted him to approach close enough to the carriage to hear the occupant reading Isaiah 53. The interest of the Ethiopian eunuch in such a key prophetic passage was another sign that God was dancing. That’s the point where we must know our part, our dance steps—and respond in time. Philip began with a simple question, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (Acts 8:30) It opened the door for Philip to ride with the eunuch and explain how Jesus fulfilled the passage in Isaiah. The eunuch’s desire to get baptized was a further sign of his willingness to obey Jesus.
Acts 10 tells a more involved story. Cornelius and Peter each experience coordinated leading from God. The centurion was clearly open to God; he was devout, feared God, gave alms, and prayed continually. Perhaps seeds sown through that lifestyle were beginning to sprout. His cue came from an angel too, in a vision: accurate directions to Simon Peter forty miles away in Joppa. As Cornelius’ servants arrive in Joppa, hungry, sleepy Peter has a vision that clearly overturns his established thinking about cleanliness. Right then the Spirit announces the arrival of the three men at the gate. The vision and the timed announcement are both cues to Peter that God is doing a dance and he should join in. Peter danced his steps: a trip to Caesarea and a simple message about Jesus. Like so many of the steps that God takes in response to our parts, this one was unexpected: The Holy Spirit fell on the Gentile listeners and they were baptized.1
Both examples end with baptism, the sign that shows a willingness to make Jesus Lord and to live in obedience to Him. Peter hung around for a few days, presumably taking the opportunity to teach more about Jesus and how to follow Him. Dancing with God results in lives drawn to follow Jesus, and His kingdom extended—the grand themes of God.
These two examples of dance partners include just a few of the steps and cues that we see in Jesus’ ministry. We should make ourselves familiar and comfortable with all the possibilities, ready to dance our part. Jesus frequently did miracles to signal God’s power and His care for the needy. That opened hearts to His message. Mark 16:20 adds a twist in the case of the disciples; God confirmed their message with signs that followed. Could that be the beginning of the next cycle—signs as a cue to the next dancers? God’s dance becomes a Conga, sweeping the dance floor, swirling to Ethiopia and the ends of the Gentile earth.
- Of course, God had long ago announced His plan to send the Spirit on Gentiles (Joel 2:28-32). [↩]