The Trinity remains forever our model for community. He is the foundation of our life and launching point for all our thinking. The Trinity also fries my mental circuits while ravishing my heart! We learn by comparing what we already know with what we are striving to learn. Yet nothing within our realm of knowing adequately prepares our minds for such revelation. What can we do? Of course, the Bible rushes to our rescue here.
Certainly no single relationship can adequately correlate with the connection between the uncreated God and His created people. So Scripture uses an ascending scale of metaphors to describe this relationship. They begin with metaphors like the Potter/clay, Shepherd/sheep and Vine/branch. Then they ascend to personal metaphors to reveal how very much God values His image-bearers. The three most overarching Biblical pictures are the Family of God, the Kingdom of God, and our Marriage as the Bride of Christ. In these three, think Both/And/And, not the either/or of multiple choice.
God is our Father and we are His beloved children.
This picture emphasizes the inbreaking of our good Father’s presence. He adopts us into His Family with the full rights and showered love of children. A good Father raises up his children over time from dependence into interdependence. In the 1st century Jewish culture, a father cultivated and raised up children to learn the family way and to participate in the “family business.” This Reality emphasizes the Father’s authority and care, love and patience, disciples in life-skills and disciplines for character development. Therefore, this lifelong process grows us into the family likeness. We never outgrow our Father/child relationship. Soak in the following until your heart is warmed.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
(1 John 3:1).
God is our King and we are His servant-warriors.
This depicts the inbreaking of God’s Kingly presence in all His greatness. In the Kingdom of God, He trains His people to go to war as fully equipped and competent young warriors. We respond to our King’s orders to rescue and free captives as He strategically places us where He needs us. When Jesus came, He threw down the gauntlet to Satan. “I have come to destroy your works and to take back the strongman’s possessions” (1 John 3:3:8b; Mark 3:27). One aspect of our life as His intimate allies is on the battlefield in an attack-counterattack mode in the world as His trained army. We respond as His faithful soldiers in battle. “Yes, Sir!” None dare go AWOL. Our Commander-in-Chief calls us to war.
God is our Groom/Husband and we are His lovely Bride/Wife.
The inbreaking of God’s presence as our generous Groom begins as He gives Himself wholeheartedly to us as His Bride. In return, He yearns for us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. Our Groom/Husband is our closest friend and passionate lover. He stands always available for His Bride, aiming at her highest and best. As His Bride, we willingly melt into His embrace. Our Groom/Husband is all-in with wholehearted support for us. By contrast, we as His Bride are growing in our wholehearted response.
Stop a moment and think how audacious this is!
Our minds can scarcely conceive such a relationship with our all-powerful and all-knowing Creator and Sustainer! Yet God initiates to reveal His presence in each of these. Our hearts respond to this highest level of intimacy and partnership: “I’m all in with You, my Beloved” even when my actions may not always reflect this heart-attitude. This almost unfathomable intimacy and full partnership with God as the Senior Partner bursts into clearest light in the blazing brilliance of the incarnation. Jesus reveals His Father in the New Testament in a way impossible in the Old Testament (Hebrews 1:1-3a). Like interactive dance partners, with the husband as the lead, this picture of Marriage raises our collaborative, interactive relationship as intimate allies to its apex.
God designed the dynamic intersection of all three as a “force multiplier” for thriving growth. Embrace our full identity in all three Both/And/And paradoxical tensions of relationship without pigeonholing God into any one. Otherwise we reduce the scope of our relationship and diminish the possibilities God has prepared for us before time (Ephesians 2:10).
Although God increasingly releases me into the full freedom of who I am, yet this is not our end. I am NOT the end-focus of my life. To remain healthy, this personal focus to change (since doing must come from being) flows out of our intimate relationship with our Team-of-Three, Father, Son and Spirit. Ongoing self-renewal changes us inwardly. Now we are able to give away more of the life of Jesus. We are dynamic, ever becoming, ever passing it along, never remaining static.
God wants whole-person responses from us. Our heart, the core of who we are, has three main apects from a Bible perspective. When our mind is renewed and our affections are stirred, these powerfully thrust our will to do God-assignments. The best way to transform our minds is to meditate in Scriptures, reading it over and over. The best way to stir our affections is to insert ourselves into the story. For instance, in Luke 15 “become” the father whose son dissed him, wasted his inheritance, and returned. Then “become” the son. Allow your sanctified imagination to stir your affections. Here are a few passages to use.
Father/Child: Luke 15:11-32
King/Servant-warrior: Psalm 145:7-10 + 13b-21 (the other verses are a good additional meditation on our Father/Child relationship.)
Groom/Bride: John 15:1-17, although see the Vintner, Vine and branches as living people, like Jesus explains.
I also blog on the Trinity at Beholding the Trinity.