We are thinking today about the Trinity, the description of God that incorporates Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For thousands of years man has sought to understand the true nature of God, and the more we learn, the more we realise there is to learn. God is known by many names, is seen and heard in many forms and is revealed to us in so many different ways that we are left floundering and mystified if we try to define just what he is.
The Trinity, as a model of God, goes a long way toward helping to understand. It reminds us of a God that creates, the Father, that teaches us about his will, the Son, and that inspires us and holds us in love, the Holy Spirit. And yet all these three are actually one. Made in the image of the living God the trinity is also an idea that can apply to us. The concept of body, mind and spirit is one which is familiar in the world around us, and one which is increasingly seen as relevant and useful to education. Our own thoughts, feelings and actions are what help others to form opinions of us and similarly we form opinions of others from their actions, their comments and how they make us feel.
Isaiah was very conscious of the way God made him feel. In his vision he was made aware of the physical presence of God, an awesome presence, distant in a high and mighty sort of way. The whole experience was stunningly sensual with the presence of seraphs, burning dazzling things, their voices calling Holy, Holy, Holy, and the chamber filled with light and smoke. Isaiah was initially so overwhelmed by this physical presence, the ‘embodiment’ of God that he assumed he would be destroyed. But this initial impression was enriched at the point that God began to communicate. Isaiah was brought into a new proximity with God, understanding that God had a plan and that it would involve him working for God in the world.
So many people perhaps allow their impression of God to be informed by visual or sensual image without allowing themselves to get closer. You can’t judge a book by its cover, even though the cover of God, in the form of the beauty of creation, the power of a thunderstorm, leaves a strong impression. Prejudice will corrupt any impression of a person we form in this way; we can’t begin to understand them by just looking at them. We need to engage in relationships in order to find out what they are like. Relationships need communication. Communication with God, through prophets, accounts for the majority of the bible, but nowhere is it as direct as in the teaching and example of Jesus. John actually describes him as ‘the Word’. Nicodemus, in questioning Jesus was trying to find a way to get closer to God through communication. He was convinced by the signs and the physical presence of Jesus that here was a man that would help him understand God more fully. We don’t have the physical presence of Jesus in our conversations, but wherever we talk with other Christians, especially in discussion of ‘the Word’, Jesus has promised to be there, and so he is ‘in on the conversation’. So in getting to know other Christians we are enriching our own understanding of God. Jesus, in talking to Nicodemus, however points out a whole new level of relationship, beyond the physical and intellectual is the spiritual. Intellectually Nicodemus had grown up, but he needed to go back to allow his spiritual awakening, a rebirth in faith. Belief is stronger than knowledge. It has an emotional dimension to it. Paul talks of being led by the Spirit of God. This involves openness to God that is more than intellectual, as was the case with the Pharisees and the letter of the law, and relies on a heartfelt belief in the spirit of the law that governs our physical actions.
The trinity of God, reflected in us, his creation, helps us come into a closer relationship with Him. We see Father God in the beauty and power of creation, in the way we ourselves are designed to fulfil His purpose. We see Jesus, his Son, the Word of God, encouraging us to think, and to communicate, appearing in the Gospels, but also living in us and in the other Christians we come into contact with. And we experience the power of His Holy Spirit guiding us in moral choices and in relationships, empowering us to lead lives that show something of the Glory of God. Three parts to God, three parts of our own existence, three parts that we need to keep balanced in order to be a ‘whole’ person.