Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Trinity's Protection and Growth

It's Trinity Sunday, and that means that I'm going to try to explain the trinity again.  There are many aspects of the trinity and how it works in our lives.  We know we worship one God, but God is in three personalities: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  We see the trinity plainly at work in creation: the Father is the project manager, he conceives of the universe; the Son is the agent of execution, he carries creation out; and the Holy Spirit is the quality control, the confirms that everything is good.

We model practically everything after this relationship of the trinity.  Think of a business model: we have one who conceives of the project, one who creates it, and one who makes sure it functions and works properly. Think of a sports team: we have a coach who conceives of the plays, the team carries the plays out, and the trainer makes sure the team CAN carry the plays out.  Think of a novelist: he must come up with an idea before writing, then he must write it, then he edits it.

This last one brings up a question.  Why cannot one God be in ONE person?  Why cannot the Father, let's say, conceive of everything, create everything, AND make sure it's all good, all in one person.  That's what it seems to be in Genesis 1, doesn't it?  So why cannot God be a unity instead of a trinity?

Besides the obvious aspect that God is in relationship with himself, and does not need humanity (we were created for his pleasure, not his necessity), each person in the trinity has a function that the other two do not have--and cannot have.  Romans 5:1-5 has an example of these collaborative functions of the trinity.  This passage shows how the trinity protects us and grows us:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Let's pretend that there is only one person in the trinity--the Father.  Let's say that the Son and the Holy Spirit don't exist.  Now, here's the question.  Can we have peace with the Father?  No.  Why?  Because we are evil, and the Father is pure goodness.  Evil cannot stand in the face of goodness.  Even Moses, who was righteous, could not look upon God's glory--he had to have his face turned into the cleft of a rock when God's glory passed by.  Peace involves the eradication of evil.  The world thinks of peace in the John Lennon, holding hands, can't we all just get along way.  That way let's evil run rampant.  What does our peacekeeping body of the world, the UN, do to promote peace?  It puts the most violent and destructive nations in charge of the peace committees.

But without the Son, we cannot have peace with the Father.  He is pure goodness, pure holiness.  It's dangerous to pray for God to destroy all evil before we go to bed at night.  If he grants our wish, we WON'T be here in the morning. GK Chesterton wrote a book called What's Wrong With the World.  When asked to summarize his book, he provided two words: "I am."  We are sinful creatures that will burn up in the presence of the Father.  There is no peace between us and the Father except through Jesus Christ, the son.

Why? Because the Son covers us with his righteousness.  We can suddenly be in the same room with the Father.  He cannot see our sin.  We are also given the grace of the Father through the Son.  What does that mean?  Whereas peace means we are counted as "good" with the Father when we were "bad," grace means that we are counted as "alive" with the Father when we were once "dead."  This is because Jesus not only gives us his righteousness but his life, too.  The Father is just.  We must be destroyed, and rightly so.  The Son is like a filter that keeps the just wrath of the Father from destroying us.

Finally, the Son gives us hope.  What is hope?  It is that the peace and grace of God will last forever.  This is everlasting life.  The Son ensures that this is no thirty-day trial.  We have been counted as clean before God forever.  I once had a thirty-day trial for a job.  During that time the firm taught me everything they knew about public relations writing, and I actually got worse.  They were unable to teach me, and the thirty-day trial ended, and I was out of a job.  God comes along side us and teaches us how to be mini Christs. His instruction is perfect, and we are never going to be "fired" from the job.

Well, I think I've given sufficient reason why we need the Son.  But do we really need the Holy Spirit?  Can't we just have a duality?  A duo?  I don't need a Holy Ghost, do I?  Well, look at the rest of the passage above.  Exult in tribulations?  Where are these tribulations coming from?  According to verse 4, they come from the hope we get from Christ.  Being a Christian isn't an easy thing.  We're not suddenly "better off" than anyone else, when it comes to living life on earth.  This is the prosperity gospel that I have been preaching against for months, that if you are not healthy and wealthy then you have no faith and cannot rightly call yourself a Christian. This is false.

Actually the life of a Christian is full of trials and tribulations.  What is different about us is our reaction to the trials.  When I first became a Christian I understood that we evangelized through our behavior.  I translated this to mean that I needed to make sure that no unbeliever saw me with any problems.  Everything was supposed to at least APPEAR PERFECT.  This is wrong.  We have just as many problems as non-Christians, it's just that we are to respond to the trials with JOY.

Well, that's pretty much impossible, so count me out!  That is our natural reaction to this.  We would rather march straight to hell than live another day in pain here.  As Billy Joel intoned: "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than die with the saints; the sinners are much more fun."  This is what we all want, and when we see trials and tribulations coming, we react by running away.  Only the Holy Spirit keeps us on the path, facing the trials as they come and giving us the joy in response.

So the Father, a vast, righteous mind, who would incinerate us in a heartbeat, is filtered through the Son, so we can have peace, grace, and hope in His presence.  The filtered wrath of God comes to us as trials and tribulations (not candy canes and ice cream), and so the Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts, so that we face the oncoming tribulations and respond with joy.  Yet one more aspect of the trinity made clear, or at least clearer.