God desired to restore us to our former glory and with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost we became the recipients of his promise to restore us. This promise began with the revelation of a loving God who created us in his very image for one reason and one reason alone, to flood us with his loving presence. But we lost that intimate connection with God by the sin of Adam. Yet God was unrelenting in his desire to have us in union with him. Central to the God’s plan of restoration was for Jesus to become the atonement for the sins of all.
Jesus came to earth and willingly laid down his life so we would become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Then after Jesus, the Holy Spirit that creator spirit would come to us and do its work of changing our hearts. With new hearts we would be free us from the law (Rm. 8:2) which held us in check until the Spirit came. Once we have that Spirit within us we would live in boldness of the Spirit instead of just being proud keepers of the law (Rom. 7:6).
The scriptures never use the word Trinity. But the scriptures are full of the revelation of three distinct equally divine persons. I could today give you a theology lesson on how the trinity doctrine came into being. But knowledge of this this doctrines formation does not give us an understanding of how these three distinct persons interact and communicate within the one God. I could point all the bible passages that reveal this unity of the three like John 10:38 does when Jesus says “the Father and I are in each other.”
But I do not believe that any of that would any of that make any difference in your faith. I will tell you one spiritual truth that I have come to understand. If the entirety of the Christian faith is only about intellectual learning and of following and keeping the law, then it does not matter at all if we understand the doctrine of the Trinity. But if the entirety of Christianity is about a personal relationship with God, then who God is, who the Son is and who the Holy Spirit is matters a great deal. It matters a great deal that Jesus died to free us from sin and it matters a great deal that the Spirit is our source of holiness and understanding.
It is amazing to me that even the most primitive tribes of North America, Asia or Africa have stories of a great spirit of creation. So it is not beyond the scope of anyone’s understanding that there is a creator of the universe to whom homage is given. But the fact that this Creator is not one but three persons who desire intimacy with us challenges us to consider something very different than just honoring the creator. It also demands something greater and deeper in our response than simple acknowledgement of God.
When we pray “glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be” we are affirming that this unity of three distinct persons was, is and always will be. When we say the Creed we are affirming the oneness of God and at the same time we are affirming the uniqueness of the three persons who exist and desire intimacy with us.
Jesus revealed to us how love within the community of three persons is continually pouring out love to one another. If you have missed the portrayal of this love shared between Father, Son and Spirit in the bible, I invite you to read a simple fictional book titled “The Shack.” In this book, the interaction of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit provides one of the most understandable depictions of how the concept of three in one works and loves and communicates.
Why is this interaction between Father, Son and Spirit important us to grasp? It is not so we can understand our theology or doctrine, but in order to understand ourselves. If we are made in the image of God and God is a community of self-giving love then we too must live in a community of self-giving love.
The truth is we cannot be entirely who we are created to be if we isolate ourselves from one another. We can never entirely be who we are created to be if we only share ourselves with a small group of friends. We can never be entirely who we are created to be if we do not do everything possible to build unity among brothers and sisters in Christ. Christianity is about a relationship with God and a relationship with the entire body of Christ so that the church becomes a beacon of love and not a place of isolated groups.
One of the great things we begin to learn about ourselves and our relationship with God is that we are individually and uniquely gifted. This is one of the insights we see in the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are all divine and yet are uniquely different in how they minister love to us; they are different in how they transform us; they are different in how they speak to us. Yet each one invites us and leads us to the same place – into the very center of their love.