Trinity 2019-02-06T12:33:30+01:00

trinity

IN WHOM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING

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DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY WITHIN

Trinity

PURPOSE

God reveals Himself through the narrative as ONE. He is beyond compare and yet He exists as THREE persons. This is a mysterious way of being and is the ground upon which everything after finds its foundation. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Always has been and always will be, but He takes time to reveal Himself so that we can comprehend Him. He exists in tension. The three persons of the Godhead working together. Each with distinct roles, purpose, work, mind, will and emotion. Yet God exists in union, perfect harmony, sharing the fruit of the Spirit in a divine fellowship as a community. Unity expressed in Diversity.

Chosen by the Father:

3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Redeemed by the Son:

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

Sealed by the Holy Spirit:

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

– Ephesians 1:3-14 (MSG)

“The doctrine of the Trinity means that relationship, that fellowship, that togetherness and sharing, that self-giving and other-centeredness are not afterthoughts with God, but the deepest truth about the being of God. The Father is not consumed with Himself; He loves the Son and the Spirit. And the Son is not riddled with narcissism; he loves his Father and the Spirit. And the Spirit is not preoccupied with himself and his own glory; the Spirit loves the Father and the Son. Giving, not taking; other-centeredness, not self-centeredness; sharing, not hoarding are what fire the rockets of God and lie at the very center of God’s existence as Father, Son and Spirit.”

– C. Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam

Team Work

TENSION IS HEALTHY

Tension is essential to life. Yet, when we think of the word, we are left with a growing pain in the neck. We do not have a good word to define tension, usually the connotations are negative. However, tension is a sign that we are alive, vibrant and communicating. Indeed tension is in the heart of any team, marriage, family or organisation. It surfaces first in Trinity. A God who is both One and Three-in-One. Unity in diversity is best expressed as Tension between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, when we speak of Tension, we speak of a dilemma. It is not a problem to be solved as much as equal values that must be upheld for life and shalom to exist…

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Purpose

THEME

All the way through the Biblical Timeline we have a God racing ahead of us and yet also waiting for us to join Him in His work. It is really rather glorious. We image Him to the world. So before He acts, He is looking for imagebearers who will partner with Him and then He takes our limited ability and reveals Himself through weakness. He reveals Himself and unveils our imagebearing ability when we hear His voice and obey. “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully surrendered to Him.”

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Entering into the story…

God is not simply saving diverse individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather he is creating a people for his name, among whom God can dwell and who in their life together will reproduce God’s life and character in all its unity and diversity.” – Gordon D. Fee

Read the passage linked below and imagine the scene as if you were a movie director working with the characters. Often, we do not enter scripture with our humanity intact and we do not dignify the characters we find there by giving them their humanity in return. The goal of Lectio Divina is to meditate on the scene we find there and allow the characters to speak to us by vividly imagining the scene as if we are standing there physically too. Ask Holy Spirit to make the scenario come to life as you read using all of your senses to visualise everything in the scene…

Genesis 18:1-19 – Trinity sitting and eating at Abaham’s Table

How is this passage unusual? Why does God appear as three? Who did Abraham think they were? Isn’t his hospitality truly astonishing? Why do you imagine he ran to meet them? Was this how he thought his day was going to be as he sat at the mouth of his tent? Did the men look familiar or foreign to Abraham? What similarities are there between this account in the Old Testament and the account of Jesus on the road to Emmaus in the New Testament? In both cases, God brings good news for the destitute. How has the fire of hope gone out in Abraham’s heart? Why does God call Himself servant? Why does He not say ‘Masters’, but instead ‘Master’ singular?

How does this act of hospitality sum up the joining of Trinity and Humanity that the Bible is so pre-occupied with? God communed with us in Eden, now God has come to commune with us under the Oaks or Mamre. We partook of His hospitality and now He stoops down to our level to be welcomed by us. What does this mean? Does Abraham get what is happening? Do we? He gets water to wash their feet, he rushes to prepare a meal. This same hospitality is done in humility when Jesus washes His disciple’s human feet. What wonderful kindness toward strangers. What does Sarah think when she is interrupted and told to bake bread? What was it about the men that Abraham recognised or was this how he always reacted to visitors? How does Abraham discern the importance of this moment? What if he was so caught up in his own thoughts, that he could not have been bothered that day?

What a human story. How can we entertain God’s promises today? What has He said over you that you are scoffing about? What dreams and desires have you buried away for some other day? How amazing that God is planning a nation, when all Abraham and Sarah are hoping for is one child?! Imagine that…

17-19 Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised him.”

1) Prepare: Close your eyes, breathe, clear your mind, and ask God to enter into this time of prayer with you. Ask God to speak to you through this image.

2) Lectio (read): Open your eyes and scan the image. Note what draws your interest, but continue to scan the whole image. Close and rest your eyes a minute.

3) Mediatio (meditate): Open your eyes and let your eyes be led. Focus on just the part of the image that caught your eyes and name it. Close your eyes, seeing that piece of the image in your mind.

4) Oratio (pray): Open your eyes and look again at the piece of the image that caught your eye. Allow it to bring forth a word, image, or emotion. Close and rest your eyes.

5) Contemplatio (contemplation): Open your eyes and gaze at the whole image. What is God speaking to you today through this image? How will you respond to Him? Spend time processing that with God. Pray or journal about it.

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy *catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

*catholic simply meaning the whole Church as it confesses the wholeness of Christian doctrine.

Embodied Spirituality in Practice

A DISCIPLINE OR PRACTICE TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.

In the Introduction, we looked at our own humanity that we are finite, gifted and broken. When we look at the Trinity we see one God in three persons who has similar attributes to us and yet He is also wholly unlike us in our humanity. He is all knowing, ever present and all powerful. So, how do we reconcile that He asks us to be like Him? The answer is in our imagebearing responsibilities. God does not call us to be God, or angelic, or to become anything other than what we are… Human. He designed us to be human from the start. We are human in the middle of the narrative and we will continue to be human even in the very end! We will always be human. Something about that is both equally wonderful and terrifying. God needs to be God (All powerful). We need to bear His image (responsibly as human imagebearers) within His good Creation.

IMAGEBEARER: TENSION REFLECTION

Getting in touch with Trinitarian Fellowship…

Notice the Tension between God’s attributes.

Omniscient

God is all knowing. I am severely limited in this area. So, I should embrace my humanity and turn to God for Him to show me what as yet I do not know… This allows me to image Him well as fully human and for Him to be God over the whole Universe, sovereign over everything.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account

– Hebrews 4:13

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good

Proverbs 15:3

Omnipresent

God is everywhere present with His whole being at all times.

I can only be in one place at a time. Since I am learning to be an embodied spiritual being made in the image of God, I am finite. I have these constraints as His imagebearer and yet still I am like Him in that I have responsibilities, a vocation and I can trust that God is powerful and willing to save me if I cry out to Him.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7–10

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

– Matthew 28:19-20

Omnipotent

I am so very weak and yet God has chosen to make His power known in our human weakness. Within each of God’s attributes He has made a way for us as His human creative imagebearers to mirror His likeness in all of our frailty and vulnerability, He is God and I am just a man.

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you

– Jeremiah 32:17

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it cameto be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

– Psalm 33:6-9

Here is a related Spiritual Practice called “Hospitality” for you to explore.

Application

DISCOVERING AN EMBODIED SPIRITUALITY OF DESIGN, CREATIVITY AND THE ARTS.

At each step along the itinerary of the Biblical Timeline we will look at how the following themes come into play at each juncture of the journey…

The word Trinity isn’t even mentioned in the Bible, yet we know that God reveals Himself over time throughout the Biblical narrative. He humbly makes Himself known, through generation after generations of His image bearers, each member of the Trinity is simultaneously uncovering and revealing the depths of God’s nature and character. Who He is, What He does and as He shows us who He is, we develop and comprehend Him further and deeper than we did before. God condescends to us in the same way as we make childish noises to a little baby, anything to make the child smile or reflect joy back to us. God makes Himself known in time and space. He has to limit how much he shares of himself until we grow and then He reveals even more. He does this because while He is limitless, we are limited, frail and finite. He waits for us to comprehend Him better at each stage of the journey. He is endlessly patient. Since His revelation to us is more like a romance than speed dating, He wants to ensure that He can get to know us and our story as much as we get to know Him and His. He did not create us because he was alone or bored. He is I AM, three-in-one and has all He needs within Himself. He is relational, communal and familial from the start and in constant movement as Trinity.

Somehow in making us as dirty human reflections of Himself. God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit can reveal Himself to us from the whole of His being to our whole being. We are soul, spirit and body. We need the revelation of God to our whole being, we echolocate by looking to Him. So, God made images of Himself in human form, many of them, to reveal Who He is to us, and through us to the world. This Trinitarian God is limitless, all knowing and all powerful. How is He going to go about making Himself known to frail, dusty, limited creatures? Image and Imagebearer. We cannot be more unlike one another, yet built into our humanity is a mirroring, responsive, reflective ability to know God as we are known. As spiritual embodied beings we mirror who God is, we are made in His image and in the likeness of the Word of God. God in His wisdom made us not just spiritual like He is. We are not even like the angels; He gave us a whole new physical dimension too. We think that to really pursue God is to cease to be physical. Instead Biblical Christianity actually proposes the opposite of all other world religions. Every religion is trying to rid ourselves of something. God says our humanity from the start is not just good, but “very good”! Why do we believe otherwise?

The Trinity is One God, but rather than being static, God is expressed in three persons. They are in relationship with one another. There is no beginning and no end to that relating. It’s a movement, there is a Godly tension between each person of the trinity. Father, Spirit of Christ (Son) and Holy Spirit co-exist eternally. If we see God as simply one, then He is static, unchanging, a big ego sitting alone and untouched, wholly uninterested in making space for the “other”. Yet, if we see God as always One in purpose and yet three persons working in full harmony as one God, yet with distinct roles for each person of the Trinity right from the very start. We get to see very quickly, that God is communal, preferring and deferring to each member of the Trinity in turn. They have distinct roles, and move toward one another. Preferring one another, deferring to one another, loving one another and respecting one another. God does not come with a mask pretending to be the Father. Then in Jesus, puts a mask of the Son and finally in Holy Spirit wears another mask. Instead, the bible clearly shows that everything that they do together is in unity. One purpose, but with distinct roles. So, God is the same yesterday, today and forever and yet is also new every morning! Unity and diversity. All the gifts of the spirit are shown in their relating. Even before they created anything else they shared the gifts of the Spirit to one another.

There are a few things that occur in the mind of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit from before anything comes into existence in creation – God is envisioning all that He will do. This is how creativity works, we pre-visualise our plan of design. We imagine and pre-determine what we will do. This creativity is uniquely ours as image bearers. Even before we existed, the Image – God Himself, was thinking of us. Thinking of His plan. Working over His thoughts and purposes for everything that He will soon spring forth. God is active and purposeful in all that He does. Time and matter and space do not yet exist. Yet God is active and engaged. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are already envisioning the project and what they hope to achieve. Their plan is not in isolation, it will soon be a stage for all things to come and play a part. God is make everything from a word. At first, creation will be formless and void and then He will start to add order, and beauty and abundance (Skye Jethani). God will make everything that is not God – Physical and Spiritual, what we see and what we don’t see – and call all of it “good”. It will come from God but will not be a part of Him. From the start, it will be wonderful and fearfully made. God will also plan for contingencies as He is going to give all creatures purpose and will and autonomy. While having each aspect of His creation imbued with his attributes, This world did not come from turmoil or violence but from peace and order from the very start. 

To even create something as finite as time, and space and matter, God must limit Himself. The image we get from the start of the narrative is of a God who creates out of nothing an interconnected world that is apart from Him. Yet just as we may paint or compose or design, it very much has our fingerprints, wisdom and genius in every part. From the smallest microcosm to the macro, we are left in awe of this limitless God. So, from the start, God is using all of His power in limitation. Carefully creating things with great intricacy and tiny detail so that life will self-propagate, to develop by multiplying again and again. Cells divide and grow and He knows that while creation is expanding in time and space, it is also very fragile and open to destruction. It has a beginning and is finite, limited and needs to be nurtured, conserved and tended to. God who is sovereign over all will soon ask the pinnacle of His creation to tend to the garden and expand His kingdom from there to the whole earth. From one garden to fill the earth with gardens, from one imagebearer, to fill the earth with imagebearers. Already God is co-labouring with us from the start. He knows that our free will and ability to choose Him actually leaves Him wide open to pain. But, He embraces that possibility as an intrinsic part of what He has committed Himself to. He is sacrificial from the very start in Trinity and now He continues to be true to His nature in Creation. He knows He may lose it all as a very real possibility.

God is limitless, He governs all living things, He is the beginning and the end of the story. He is untouchable and yet chooses vulnerability. While being extremely powerful, He embraces humility. He is transcendent and yet He wants to be intimately involved. We have this tension at work in every part of God. He wants us to mirror Him in the same way, to be responsible, as He is. To take ownership as He does, to create as He does… While God does all of this without limitation, He simply asks us to do it alongside Him with limitation. We are designed to work exactly as he does, but while He does it over the whole earth, planets, stars, galaxies and universe. We get to do it within our own small area of responsibility. Each imagebearer must be aware of His own sphere of influence and learn to rule and reign with God over all aspects within this small area. To work with his hands and glorify God through his labour, enjoying it, delighting in it. Knowing all the while that beyond his small area, God is sovereign of the whole. We know in part, but God knows in totality. This is hugely liberating. We get to work and make a difference within the little God has given us and as we are faithful with little, God will entrust us with more. Just as God works in Trinity, we are meant to work within team too. These groups will take the shape of our own family, town, community, business and nation. The first work was done as embodied imagebearers in gardening. In our work, we can simply ask, “What is my obedience today?” within my human responsibilities, while trusting God, with everything else beyond our limits.

Embracing our limitation within God’s great story is exactly what God envisions for us, to be like Him, but human. Like Him; spirit, but embodied. As Christians we can be working against God, not realising that He, in all of His wisdom, made us a certain way even before the fall. He wants to be the God of the Universe and He does not need our assistance in that. What He asks instead is that we would mirror Him with our lives. He made us creatures, He is uncreated. He made us creative, but within constraints, He is creative without constraint. As soon as we look at God, we think that our human life is holding us back. It seems God has made us this way to be a small mirror of what He already is. We are not to think that we need to be limitless, to rid ourselves of what makes us human and become divine. Essentially, He has said that how he made us is good… actually “very good”. Why do we go through life kicking against it and wishing we were other than human? Many of us long to get rid of this body, but actually, as we will see, we will always be human. We will not be anything other than human. New Creation is a new heaven and a new earth… We were created to be body, soul and spirit. We think for God to succeed, He would like to rid us of our humanity, as we do. Actually the opposite is true, He longs to be one of us. To join us in human life and all that it entails to show us, in Christ, a brand new way to be human!

Creative expression

INSPIRATION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION FROM A CREATIVE

MIRANDA HEATHCOTE

FITNESS COACHING:

Along with her husband, Tim, and their two daughter, they are a family from the UK and South Africa. They have worked for a dozen years with a dynamic and international organization called Youth With A Mission. Currently they run the network of communication teams serving YWAM projects in Africa. 

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Creative Assignments

SOME EXAMPLES

This is a chance to express yourself creatively. Perhaps something in this part of the timeline has challenged, excited or inspired you. You may want to think about how your could express that through drawing, writing, painting, filming, designing or photographing something to share with others here at creativeimagebearers.com.

So write a haiku, poem, song or create a piece to express yourself and share it with us!

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Final Take-Away to give context…

PROVOKE THOUGHTS, QUESTIONS…

There is only One God. There are three Divine Persons. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are coequal and coeternal. God is not one person who appears to us in three different forms or modes, as if He is putting on or taking off a mask. The Son and Holy Spirit are also not subordinate to the Father in nature and being, they are equals. The Son and Holy Spirit willingly submit out of mutual love to the Father. There are not three Gods, but One. His name is I AM.

Each person of the Trinity is Fully God. God is three persons. There is One God. At every point of the biblical timeline God is working as Father, Alpha and Omega. The architect of the whole plan from humble beginnings to startling finish. The Son exists as the Spirit of Christ until He appears incarnate as Jesus. Jesus remains human now as our great High Priest. The Holy Spirit came to complete the work planned by the Father, begun by Christ by making us a part of One Spirit and One Body.

How do you pray to God? Sometimes it may be to the Father who loves us as His children? Sometimes to Jesus as the God/Man and our big brother who knows what it is like to be human in every way? Or perhaps, you need the comfort, or empowering revelation of the Holy Spirit who makes Christ available to the church? It is worth thinking about who you direct your needs to as you pray to God, who is present to us as God – Father and Son and Holy Spirit – at all times.

Your take-away

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