Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God's triune identity John 16:12-15

A week ago a man stopped by wanting to speak tell a story about his experience of God. It started 11 years ago and it's shaped his life. I asked him what he understood about Christian mystics. He didn't know much and thought the word sounded too magical. He assumed his experience of God was unique, like few others had ever had. I told him of mystics trying to relate his experience to that of others who had experiences of God that defy simple explanation.
One great difference that emerged in our conversation is that the man who came to share his story didn't accept the Trinity. I do. We both admitted belief in God the Father; but the man I met with wasn't sure about God's Triune being. He didn't see Jesus as God's son equal in majesty and one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In our conversation I found myself repeating portions of John's gospel.

All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:15. NRSV
The man I met wrestled with this verse and other passages like it in John. Jesus says he is one with the Father. I spoke about God the Father, Son, and Spirit being different beings yet somehow sharing one will and one supreme place in the universe.
I responded to his questions that it's simply something we disagreed about. He was willing to accept that I viewed God differently. He was willing to believe, as I do, that so much of our great theological work that's meant to explore God's being makes the simple reality of God's presence way too complicated.
Trinity Sunday is a day to celebrate God's presense, work, and majesty. It's a day to give thanks that God has interest in our lives.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortalsa that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,b
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
Psalm 8:3-6 NRSV
One of the great challenges a great teacher ever gave a class of would be preachers was to expect, in our earthly lives, that much of God's true being would be hidden, shrouded in mystery. Instead of resolving questions for people about God maybe we are supposed to learn that God comes and the questions are the evidence.


Tmiester said...

The Triune is a hard concept, of couse there is the comparison to the Apple, the Skin the Meat and the seeds.. 3 parts, one apple. Also i Have tried to Compare Myself to grasp that Concept. I am a Father to My Children, I am a Son to My Father and my Wife Keeps my Spirt (love) as I Keep hers. or another for the spirit is I have a spirit to Live. But I am but one person.

Unlikely said...

There was a kids book (back when I was a kid) about the trinity being like an apple.
I have also thought of the trinity as an egg: shell, white, and yolk. Each is part of the egg is egg; but the metaphor breaks down if you try to eat the shells.
I guess that I like your last image of the trinity the best. It's not that you are three people but you are known to others uniquely.