In this series already we’ve looked at where we get stuck and lose touch with the life of God. We create strategies that help us cope with our distance from God. In the last blog, we looked at how we often make our faith about life-management over and above a relationship of intimacy with God himself through Christ. Jesus came offering the promise of oneness with God. We trade the hope of relationship with God for cheap religious trinkets in pockets with holes.
I’d like to take some space to consider the question, Why is this relationship-thing so important to God? If relationship is at the center of what God desires, and it is the whole reason for all that has happened in our universe of time and space, then it is critical that we grasp at least a whisper of it, or be left out of it all together.
As we consider it, would you be open to use a bit of your imagination with me? By the way, there’s nothing wrong with using our imagination. It’s what we do when we put ourselves into a story in Scripture. All good stories make room for us. We imagine hearing the serpent hissing out his tempting lies in the garden. We feel the grit of dusty roads caked on Peter’s feet as Jesus lovingly washes it away. For this little exercise, let’s take a step back a little further. Let’s take the truths God reveals about himself and imagine what it might have been like in the time before time.
There was a time when all there was, was God. It wasn’t dark because God was the light. It wasn’t silent because God was the song. It wasn’t lonely because God was there. God is all God needs. He is self-sufficient. He is self-contained and self-fulfilled. This is the wonder of God being Trinity. He was not some old man getting crankier and lonelier as time marched on. He didn’t have some sort of holy boredom that moved him to create. He lived in the perfect Three-in-One. He lives in eternity-past and eternity-forever as Father, Son and Spirit. In creation He is Elohim; God, the Word and the Spirit who hovered over the waters. Under the oaks of Mamre, he is the Three who came to covenant with Abraham. At the baptism of Jesus, He is the voice from heaven, the Son in the water and the Dove who testified of the chosen One. In Revelation He is the Three-in-One that the angels exalt as they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”
What core aspect of God’s nature does the truth of Trinity tell us about God? And what does it imply about our own nature and purpose?
The truth of Trinity, God forever being Father, Son and Spirit reveals to us the context for the revelation that God is love. He is not love by principle, or by good habit. God is love by nature. The apostle Jesus loved wrote it clearly. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 Jn. 4:8) If love is part of God’s nature, then there was never a time when God didn’t love. Love can only exist when there is one loving, one being loved and love itself. Augustine wrote that all three were required. “Well then, when I, who make this inquiry, love anything, there are three things concerned— myself, and that which I love, and love itself.” God being Trinity emphatically declares that God is a God of relationship. It also tells us that he didn’t need someone else to love. The Trinitarian godhead allows love to exist completely in God alone.
Another thing we know of God is that he is immutable, or unchangeable. The Scriptures remind us “For I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6). God is forever the same. And God is love. God has been and will forever be in deep communion as Father, Son and Spirit. And that communion is based on his nature of love. He can be nothing else, ever.
So let’s go back to our imagination and think a bit. God, before all time, enjoyed a self-sustaining communion of fellowship, unity and love. Unlike the gods of the Romans and Greeks, he is not fighting. He is not wielding his power in order to establish his place of superiority. He is not acting out in petulant anger against some divine competition. He is sitting at the heavenly table. He is filled with joy at the glory of his goodness, beauty and power. Around that table, love flows between Father, Son and Spirit. If there was a place you would ever want to be, it would be at that table. Because it is there we find our place, our reason, our mission.
One of the conversations at the table went something like this, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26). In perfect agreement, it happened, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27).
But what does that say about us, our nature and our purpose?
God is love. God lived in relationship. Out of love, not out of need, God created a being. This being would be different from all others. This being would be made to share in life around the table of God. This being would be made with the capacity for love. This being would be made to share in the sovereign work of God, as vice-kings of creation. Imagine that. Life at the table. Living life in God, his love, his fellowship, his oneness and sharing his rule. Imagine just for a moment the joy, the safety, the perfect serenity of life at that table where all the love of the universe dances from one to another.
This is the relationship the first Adam had and lost. This is the relationship the second Adam (Jesus) came to restore. When we lose our vitality, we’ve lost our vision! We’ve lost the dream of being one with the Three-In-One. Can I encourage you to do something to step back into this reality?
I encourage you to read the following words, reflect and renew your commitment to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then ask him for a new hope of sitting at the table again in Christ.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
NOTE: If you were studying this series, what questions would you want answered? Please put them in the comment section! I want to hear from you.
Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. I pray you find new depth as you consider the very nature of God and the relationship for which He created you and redeemed you.
Love this Jim! For me, the eternal Trinitarian relationship and the subsequent reality that we’ve been made in this image, has real, relational ramifications for us as image-bearers of the Missio Dei and how we live in mission as the global and local church one with another. Thanks for this!
Thank you, Randy. What is one ramification that stands out to you?