Friday, May 23, 2014

Are One... Are One... Are One....

image used under Creative Commons license, 
photo from Tim Engleman on Flickr
If you think the title of this post is a little strange, you're probably right.  I've had a couple of relatively important things happen this week  that highlighted a spiritual reality for me.

The first was my birthday.  At 71, it's not a landmark like 18, 21, 40, 50, 75, 90 and some others might be, for various reasons.  But it's the first where I was a little more public about it on the various social media where I'm active.

The second was being almost done with our June devotional book.  There are two more days to do, proofreading, then publish so it's available for June.

Both of those took me into a spiritual meditation that I'd like to share.  The subject is displayed in today's illustration.  And, if that last sentence confuses you, we'll clarify that in a bit.

First, the birthday.  There were greetings from a number of people that surprised me, some that were missing that also surprised me, and a few belated greetings.  It's part of what got me thinking about true unity.  That was solidified by a couple of verses from the devotional book.  And, while it's not a subject that's necessarily accepted as foundational doctrine, it's something that I think will excite you as much as it did me.  And a topic that will bless you.  So, let's start with the picture.

Our illustration is the top of the communion table at the Hampton Presbyterian church, north of Pittsburgh.  Even if the Christian fish symbol hadn't been highlighted by the coloring, I think we'd quickly figure out that the three circles represent the Trinity.  When we look at those circles, there are areas where each circle takes up some of the same space as the adjacent circle.  Toward the center of the design, all three circles take up the same space.  That may be the best we can do for a design that represents the reality of the Trinity, but it really doesn't come close to depicting the real unity.

We describe the Trinity as three persons in one being.  Let's take a real life example.  A man can be a son, a friend, a father, an employee, and a husband, all at the same time.  While each of those are only displayed at certain times, that person is fully all of them, at all times.  Being one doesn't eliminate or lessen being any of the other things.  That's an incomplete example, but at least it gives us a mental picture to work with.

We talk about Jesus being in us, once we're beyond the point of salvation.  Often, we talk about the Holy Spirit being in us.  But we never talk about the two together.  It's almost as if they're separate tenants of a summer bungalow, both residing in the same space, but never there at the same time. But I don't think that describes the reality.  Which is where things get exciting.

One of the major foundational doctrines is that the Trinity, while being separate persons, is one being.  And the doctrine of the Trinity says they're never separated, except at that one point on the Cross when Jesus became our sin.  Think about what John 10:30 (KJV) tells us, "I and my Father are one.".  The Greek for "one" is eis, which doesn't talk about unity, but it does say to us that the things that are one are the same thing, not just alike, and not just in unity.  Then there's 1 John 5:7 (KJV), which says "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.". Once again, the Greek is eis.  Every aspect of the Trinity is fully available in the same place, at all times.  Are you getting excited, yet?

Let's think about that summer bungalow.  It's not different people staying there on different vacation weeks.  It's a family living there at the same time.  And it's not a vacation spot, it's their permanent residence.  Each member of the "family" handles what they're good at, as needed, when it's needed.

That gives me the Trinity all fully living in me.  When there's one, the others are there, too.  Since God is omniscient, which person is active at any given moment is based on God determining what we need, both for ourselves and for our relationship with Him.  And He can change which person of the Trinity is functioning, instantaneously, controlled by His omniscience.  If that doesn't thrill us enough, follow my train of thought.

We often think of communicating our desires and needs to Jesus, with Him passing that along to the rest of the Trinity.  But, if all three parts of the Trinity reside in us, doesn't that show us that Jesus isn't a middle man?  In reality, all the persons of the Trinity know what we're praying, as we pray it. In fact, God's omniscience let's Him know before we do.  So, whether or not we should be praying to any other persons of the Trinity, we can.  God will sort it out and the appropriate person will respond in the best possible way.

Now, I'm not saying this is anything like a cardinal doctrine.  You're free to believe it or not.  But this certainly gives us a mental image of a spiritual reality.  Every aspect of God is instantaneously available to the believer, at all times.  And it's certainly nice to consider our relationship with God as being so close that all of the Trinity wants to be that close to us.  In one way, it's really unimportant whether we have all persons of the Trinity in us.  But I, for one, really like thinking of it that way.  It makes the thought of instantaneous access to God seem just a bit more concrete.  And we have an idea of just how instantaneously He will meet our needs.

We talk about God being love and that He loves us.  What greater example is there of that love than that He wants every aspect of Himself to be so close that they all are right inside us?


  1. You call it bungalow. I call it mansion. There are many mansions in the father's house - for him to live in, and Jesus went to prepare them on the cross, so they could dwell in it.

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    2. But I'm not talking about our heavenly mansions. Remember the exact phrase: "tenants of a summer bungalow". If you consider those small rental house by lakes and oceans as mansions, I won't argue. But that's what I'm talking about. It's a vacation place many of us have been in. And, when one family rents it, the next family doesn't stay there at the same time. The comparison I was making is that we think of ourselves like those rentals, focused on only one member of the Trinity at a time. When, in reality, they're all there because they are all part of the "family".