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Seeing Our Triune God

Seeing Our Triune God

God is essentially relational. Personhood, community and benevolent love are all aspects of our triune God. Before creation, the Trinity shared in such perfect unity that God did not need to create the world in order to have companionship. There was no “lonely God” that needed man to be His best friend, for to be God is to be related in love. Out of an act of sheer grace God created a world, not so that He could experience love, but where His could be expressed. Throughout history, God has revealed Himself as triune: YHWH of Israel, the incarnation of Christ, and the mysterious “Counselor” that lives in and breathes on believers is the revelation of God made available and accessible to us. The goal of creation is sharing in this threefold divine nature that early theologians described as a dance that all creation encircles around.

Why didn’t somebody tell me about this?

There has been a loss of Trinitarian allure in Church history. Even when it was zealously defended at the Council of Nicea, a pattern of thinking started that ironically shifted the focus from the “ecstatic dance” to articulating an impossible mystery. Though the creeds and confessions were much needed to guard against the heresies now propagated by today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, the next millennia would see the Trinity become a philosophical puzzle that great minds would try to dissect and explain. By the time the so-called “Enlightenment” came around, theologians all but abandoned the essential Christian doctrine. Immanuel Kant once said that the Trinity “leads to absolutely nothing worthwhile,” and many agreed that it was outdated and worthless metaphysical speculation. Unfortunately, Enlightenment thinkers left their mark. Since they developed a system where God is said to only exist as a First Cause and then is no longer involved in creation, people have naturally adopted a picture of God that is a Great Big Idea. Imagine an all powerful being that is all good, but doesn’t seem to show himself nor care about the people he made; we have a perfectly good deity to smash with atheism. This is the dead god of philosophers.

The Trinity teaches us that God is not aloof, nor impersonal, but that He entered history to reveal His triune self in order to be known. The apex of this revelation is in the incarnation of Christ. The greatness and uniqueness of Christianity is that Jesus is the revelation of God, the very image and exact representation of who God is. Jesus answers the question, “Where do we get our picture of God from,” in that He shows us how God feels (by weeping over a dead relative), how God reconciles (by accepting the repentance of "notorious sinners"), how God judges (by scolding the "good-enough"), and how God saves (by dying a brutal death on a cross). This is our God.

Those that see the Son see the Father, and when Jesus teaches us to pray He gives us the awesome privilege of calling Him "Heavenly Father." The incredible benevolence of the Trinity is shown by the generosity of the Father who delights in giving good gifts to His children, far more than any fallen human father ever could. "How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Jesus asks. We sometimes erroneously believe that Jesus is a friend that holds back the angry Father who wants to "get" us. But we forget that it is the Father who first loved us and knows all our needs, which is why He provided us with the bread of heaven—Christ’s body—given to us while we were still undeserving sinners. This is the gospel.

The Father was pleased to crush the Son in order to adopt us into His family. And because we have been made sons (and daughters), the Father sends His Spirit into our hearts with overflowing love that speaks the most precious of truths, “Abba, I belong to you.” Even in the face of unimaginable adversity when one is tempted to despair, the certainty of adoption grounds the believer in the promise and guarantee that we are God’s possession. And that one day we will be resurrected and transformed into what Paul calls the “Praise of His glory.” This is our inheritance.

The Son returned to the Father in order to send the “Counselor” into the world to carry Christ’s mission to completion. The Spirit’s work is mysterious like the coming and going of the wind, but it is not without evidence. Without Him, we would have no real knowledge of God for the Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them to us. We would have no genuine plea before God because we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit searches our hearts while strengthening, comforting, and sometimes grieving over us as we slowly conform to the likeness of Christ. The Spirit is God in us and among us. Our bodies are His temple as is our church. God’s unity is shown in the Church as one body with one baptism; likewise, His diversity is shown in that it is made up of many parts with many gifts. This communal unity/diversity is the very prayer of Christ for all believers which gives us a small glimpse into the relational perfection that is God: “I pray … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:21-23).” This is our fellowship.

Though it goes unnoticed, the Trinity provides, redeems, and breathes life into our being everyday. Far from being a distant and motionless "timeless block," God reveals Himself as the one in whom we live and move and have our being. He has blessed us with a glimpse of the benevolent inner-workings of Himself—originating, reconciling, and completing—all for the purpose of one day getting creation to sing "Hosanna!" This is our dance.

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