Does a perfect relationship exist? Even though our rational mind may say "no," our heart always seeks for one. We are always looking for someone - whether it is parent, friend, or significant other who will always be there for us, love us deeply and never disappoint us. In those terms, perfect human relationships aren't possible. But there is such a thing as a perfect relationship and it exists within the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit. This morning, we will be looking at the Trinity through the lens of 2 Corinthians 13:14.
In this closing statement of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul names the Father, Son and Spirit in a beautiful benediction: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The word "trinity" is not found in the Bible, but as the early church sought to define the nature of God, it became very clear that throughout both the Old and New Testament, God had revealed Himself as one God in three persons.
Today we will look at three aspects of this perfect relationship: 1) the nature of the relationship; 2) the qualities in the relationship; and 3) the invitation to enter into this relationship.
1) The nature of the relationship: Many people have attempted an analogy of the Trinity. Some have tried to compare the Trinity to water - that it exists as water, ice, and vapor but all three are still considered H20. But this isn't a sufficient analogy because all three cannot exist at the same time in the same form. Or some tried to compare the Trinity to a three leaf clover. But this analogy fails because each leaf is only part of the clover not the whole.
I could go on and on but I won't. The conclusion has been that the Trinity is a mystery that can't be fully explained. There is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4) comprised of three persons who are equal in every way yet distinct in their tasks and relations to humanity.
In the book, Unlocking the Bible Story, the author writes, "The three persons of the Godhead are not to be confused. The Father did not die on the cross. The Son did not send Himself into the world. The Spirit did not rise from the dead. There is one God and God is three persons."
How do we respond to this mystery? Some have turned away from it in frustration. Because they don't understand it, some people have just rejected God as "unknowable," so why even try? Others have laboriously tried to explain it through study and theology. But there is a third response. And that is to allow mystery to lead us into worship. We are called to worship God, not completely understand Him or be able to explain Him.
This leads to our 2nd aspect: 2) the qualities in the relationship. Here we turn back to 2 Corinthians 13:14. This is Paul's second letter to the church in Corinth and it is a congregation with which he is very familiar. His letters had been addressing a variety of concerns, not the least of which was divisions in the church. So Paul concludes this letter using the terms grace, love and fellowship seeking to bring that divided church together through the personal experience of the Trinity in their daily lives.
a) Paul lists Jesus Christ first, with the quality of "grace" as the highlight. Mentioning Christ first, make sense because it is only through Christ that we are brought into relationship with the Father God. We are accepted by God through what Christ has done, not anything we have done or will do.
b) Then Paul lists the quality of the "love" of God. Sometimes we are so focused on the amazing work of Jesus Christ for us that we forget that it is God's love that sent Christ. Some people, when they think of God, think of Him as the God of wrath as depicted in the Old Testament stories. John 3:16 reminds us that God (the Father) so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son. God the Father loves us deeply and wants us to receive and enter into His love.
c) Lastly is the quality of the "fellowship" of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is someone that we will talk about next week, another kind of mysterious person. The character quality however, that is most associated with the Holy Spirit is fellowship. It can mean fellowship which the Spirit promotes between believers or the Christian's intimacy with the Spirit as a Person. I think in this context it can be both! Because of the Spirit's work, we can be united with other believers and be united with God.
This leads to our third aspect: 3) the invitation to relationship.
There exists within God a perfect loving relationship. God doesn't "need" us to have someone to love. In this perfect relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit, God is completely whole.
When we are rescued (redeemed) from our sin by Jesus Christ, we enter into this perfect relationship and John 14:20-23 tells us that the Father, Son and Spirit dwell within us.
What a wonderful invitation to relationship! When we accept the fact that our earthly relationships will never satisfy our soul, and then enter into the perfect relationship of the Father, Son and Spirit we can know that we are truly loved.
How will you live in and live out of the love of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit this week?