Trinity: Not a Philosophical Idea
Trinity Sunday, Year C, RCL
Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15
Many religions have similar precepts as Christianity. Their moral compass tends to point in the same direction. What sets Christianity apart from other religions is the Trinity; what we are celebrating today. The Trinity is not a philosophical concept, a way of rationally explaining the unexplainable. Any attempts we use to explain our God come up short because our God is beyond our comprehension and explanation. But this is not why we have the Trinity. The Trinity not a logical construct of God. For it seems that a Trinitarian concept follows no logic at all; three individual persons comprising one God; complete unity, yet diversity. No there is no logic to help explain the Trinity.
Simply put, the Trinity is our God. The Trinity shows us is that God is relational. God is three persons who all intimately related to one another in a constant dynamic flow of movement. In the unity of the three persons, we find in our God a God that is recognizable to all who look.
God the Father, the creator and sustainer, may be the most difficult to recognize in our daily life but this is one of the reasons God sent the Son. The Son was given to us, in part, so that we can recognize God through him; Christ being the perfect image of God. Though God is not human through Christ God became human. And because of the incarnation, we are able to relate to God; talk, eat, and be with God who otherwise would be ineffable.
The Spirit was given to us by the Father so that we can be comforted, reminded of Christ, and recognize Christ in our lives even when he is not physically present with us.(1) It is through the Spirit that we follow God’s will; that we spread the good news to others. We find Christ through the Spirit, we find God through Christ and somehow, when we know Christ and the Spirit, we know the Father and thus the Trinity.
The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit make up the Godhead, the one God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, our all in all. Or as it says in the Book of Acts, chapter 17, The creator and sustainer of the world, “in which we search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’” (2)
This all sounds incredible or wonderful but there is more to it than we might think. What is most amazing is that this dynamic flow extends beyond the Trinity to us. We engage each other and the world around us through interaction and conversation. By nature, we are relational beings. We do best physically and mentally when we have relationships with others and with the environment around us. Studies with have shown this to be true whether with people who are isolated due to aging(3) or through incarceration.(4) People are better off when they have relationships.
The relationships we have formed within our community, friends, and family are images of the relationship we are called to be in with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were made in God’s image as a relational being so that our interactions flow from one person to the next, mingling and dynamic just like the movement of the Trinity.
This dynamic relationship is a central idea of Christianity. It sets Christianity apart from the other Abrahamic religions. You cannot be born a Christian. It takes the interaction of at least one other person and ideally an entire community, along with the three persons of the Trinity to baptize you. It is your baptism that initiates you into the Christian Church, not birth. Nor does our baptism mark the end of our need for a relationship with God. Baptism is just the beginning.
As Christians, we are called to interact and build relationships with all of our neighbors. Though fellowship is one of the primary ways we do this, we are called to do more. We are called to tell our shared stories of faith, of Christ, with one another. We are called to feel the fire of the Holy Spirit within us, even if it is just a tiny flicker. This flame within us that burns to know God more deeply is nurtured as we learn and study the Word of God; allowing the dynamic movement of the Trinity to act in our lives.
Because of the Trinity, we are not alone in any of our endeavors. For we have our triune God with us, to comfort us in sorrow, to guide us when we are unsure, to steady us when we feel off kilter. Because we have a relational God, who promotes relationships with him and others, we are lifted up every time we fall. We are forgiven every time we ask. No, the Trinity is not a philosophical idea. It is not a logical construct. The Trinity is our God and it is where we find love, strength, courage, hope and most importantly, it is where we find life.
1) John 14:25-29
2) Acts 17:27-28
3) Health Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness, Journal of Aging Life Care, Spring 2018: https://www.aginglifecarejournal.org/health-effects-of-social-isolation-and-loneliness/