Skip to main content
Spiritual Health

Dancing to the Music of the Gospel

By October 21, 20114 Comments

This week I unearthed an excerpt from a book that I had forgotten about, although I have posted it here before. I used it for a lesson I taught on Ephesians 2 Tuesday night, and it is just as powerful to me today as it was 2 years ago when I first read it. Don’t you love when you happen upon a good book or a great passage that you had forgotten about, like finding a buried treasure?

All of that to say, I want to post it again because I love it so much. It is a great heart check. It comes from Bob George’s book Classic Christianity (read it if you haven’t!!!), and I hope it will capture your imagination the way it did mine:

“Imagine yourself in a large house, in which are living both deaf and hearing people. They are all mixed together, and you can’t tell by looking who is deaf and who has hearing. Sitting in a room by himself is a man. As you watch, you notice that he is tapping his toes rhythmically and snapping his fingers in time. You know what is happening. He’s listening to music, and obviously enjoying himself. His whole body wants to respond to what his ears are receiving. There’s nothing strange or mysterious about it.

But now, let’s add a new person to the scene. One of the deaf persons opens the door and enters the room. He immediately sees the first man and walks over to him and smiles a greeting. The deaf man watches the music-lover for a few moments. ‘He sure seems to be enjoying himself,’ he thinks. ‘I think I’ll try it, too.’ So the deaf man sits next to the first man and begins to imitate him. Awkwardly and haltingly at first, he tries to snap his fingers, tap his toes, and move like the person next to him. Everybody has some sense of rhythm, whether they can hear or not. After a little practice, he deaf man is snapping and tapping in time with the first man. He even smiles a little and shrugs: ‘It’s not that much,’ he thinks, ‘but it’s okay.

Let’s now add our final factor to the story. A third man walks into the room. What does he see? Two men, apparently doing the same thing. But is there a difference? Absolutely! All the difference in the world! The first man’s actions are natural responses to the music he hears. The deaf man is only imitating those outward actions–even though he can’t hear a noise. That is the difference between real Christianity and legalism.”

Are you dancing to the music of the Gospel, or are you only imitating those around you? The latter option is ultimately hollow and unable to satisfy. Those who merely mimic without hearing the beautiful chords of God’s grace, mercy and unfailing love are doomed to a half-hearted faith. Salvation by grace through faith, not legalistic obedience or even being a “good person,” is the first and last of the gospel. Nothing more is necessary, and nothing else is capable of inspiring us to dance.


  • Tim says:

    Great line here, Sharon: “Those who merely mimic without hearing the beautiful chords of God’s grace, mercy and unfailing love are doomed to a half-hearted faith.”

    This reminded me of one time I was at Canterbury Cathedral attending Evensong. This was a short while before I became a Christian and I went with a couple friends who were visiting me. We were about half the congregation that evening. The group was so small that we all gathered in the choir stall in order to be right up next to the officiants.

    As the name of the service implies, there is a lot of music at Evensong. We were singing the hymns, and since I grew up in a Presbyterian church I knew hymns well. I have a pretty good singing voice, so I was loud and melodic. There was this old guy right behind us who was singing with gusto and e knew hymns really well, too. He also couldn’t carry a tune to save his life. He was loud and tone deaf.

    After I became a Christian, it hit me. God heard me sing melodiously in that cathedral and, in my unregenerate state, was not pleased since “without faith it is impossible to please God”; God heard that man sing so far off key you’d need a telescope to spot the tune, and was pleased by such beautiful music because God “rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6.)

    I’m so glad that I can now dance to (and sing!) the music of the Gospel too.


  • Sarah W says:

    Sharon, amen and amen! Great excerpt. Nothing replaces the real streams of living water that you drink first hand!

  • Haley says:

    Enjoyed the post! How can we ensure that we are simply imitating others, but are actually “dancing to the music of the Gospel”?

  • Sharon says:

    That’s a great question, Haley! While the expression of faith should come from a heart devoted to God, we can also look to other Christians to help guide us in holy living. That said, it isn’t wrong to find help and encouragement from other Christians in your life–in fact, you need them! However, if the substance of your faith is pure imitation, then it will soon become apparent in a lack of joy and power. Imitation can only sustain us so far, but if we are cut off from the vine (John 15) we will eventually begin to wither.

Leave a Reply