Living in the Trinity
Once again we are faced with looking into the nature of God and left just a little baffled and confused. Each one of us have an idea or concept of God; which we hold on with all our might in times of stress. For some of us it is wise old man sitting on top of a hill full of wisdom and insight. For others God is the face of Jesus. For others God is a being to be feared and obeyed. Almost all of us would agree that God is love, but we probably wouldn’t agree on what we mean by that statement. In scripture an array of images of God are alluded to and they validate all of our presuppositions. God is the voice of wisdom and promise. God is a being that sits on a throne. God has moments of righteous rage and anger where whole groups of people are destroyed. God also has moments of amazing grace and mercy where people deserving of death and destruction are spared. So, with all of these biblical images how can we define God’s nature? How does the Trinity give us insight into the being of God and how do we as humans fit into God’s plans?
As Christians, who confess the triune God every Sunday, we believe God is essence is the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three persons united into one God. How is this possible since basic math tells us that one plus one plus one is three and not one? It’s possible because whole and healthy relationships are not simple addition, but multiplication. For those of you who are married think about this. In your vows you bonded with another and became one. In an unhealthy union each partner would have to sacrifice one half of themselves in order to make the union one. I say unhealthy because no one should sacrifice any part of themselves for another because who decides what each person should sacrifice? Usually, the one with the most power makes the decision, which makes the union unhealthy and broken from the get go. In a healthy relationship each person brings their whole being into the union and multiply the other making the bond stronger. In the union each person changes and evolves, but the integrity of the person stays intact. That my friends is how the holy trinity works. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are bonded in love and in their love for one another their integrity is intact, each person is whole and complete and their love is perfect.
In the bond of their perfect love all of creation was formed. In their perfect union the mysteries of the world are embedded. The incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was planned within this loving relationship. The biggest mystery of all is how we as people, as the psalm says, are regarded so highly that we are little less than Gods, enter into this beautiful relationship. With the incarnation of the Son, in the person of Jesus, God took on our human nature and bonded humanity with God in ways that not only changed our relationship with God, but the relationship within the Trinity. Perfect love now includes humanity and all of creation. With all of this perfect love oozing out every where around us why do we fail to acknowledge its existence. We take God’s greatest gifts, love, mercy and forgiveness and turn it into a sword for division instead of a means of unity. Why do we do this to ourselves and to others? We do it because even though Jesus destroyed sin humans just can’t let it go. Sin, though destroyed, still wreaks havoc in our lives and in people of faith it causes the most harm.
When we think of sin we think of the biggies like murder, adultery, and theft; which are pretty big sins. However, when it comes to the big sins people know they are guilty and either feel shame or they don’t. In Christians we deal with a more insidious sin and that is self righteousness and superiority. We take the beautiful gift of mercy and grace and tend to turn it around as a sword to judge others. I do it all the time, and if you are honest with yourselves you’ll admit that you do it too. We live in a horribly divided culture and we as Christians need to ask ourselves why. I believe it is because we have looked at our neighbors who think, live and believe differently than us and we have deemed them unrighteous. Ironically, that is not our job to judge others. Our job is to profess the love of God for all people – period. Why? Because in our own faith we know that we are justified by grace through faith aside from the works of the law. Its a free gift that we didn’t earn, deserve, or merit. It was given to us because of the loving nature of God.
How do we move past this point? I think the first thing we all need to do is turn to God and be in awe at what God has done for us all and the beauty of his grace. After taking in God’s unwavering loyalty to us we then repent and turn away from arrogance and self righteousness and we do this by owning our own stuff. This is a difficult task and not everyone is up to fulfilling it, but over the next few weeks you’re invited to join in on the 12 Steps for Recovering Pharisee’s Like Me book study. If you can’t make it to the book study; then be prepared to hear me preach on each step through out the summer. I think its time for all Christians to take a good hard look at themselves and ask some tough questions and the first being: Do I represent Jesus and his teaching the way Jesus wants me to, or do I give Jesus a bad name?
The holy trinity gives us the means to live faithful lives. The Father gave us the Son and the Holy Spirit unites us to all three. We have been given a beautiful gift; which we are to use to spread the Gospel and not division. We are to look at our neighbors and see brothers and sisters. In our culture we see us and them. In the Trinity there is no us and them. In the Trinity there is unity and love and the ultimate goal of the Trinity is to bring us all together as one united in love. When we can let go of the judging; then perhaps divisions will cease and peace will reign.