|Trinity: John 17:20-26; 2 Corinthians 13:14
Father, Son and Spirit
John 17:20-26; 2 Corinthians 13:14
1. I know this is one of the more difficult topics for Christians. The “Trinity” scares people. Indeed, the way it has been formulated and sometimes discussed (like it is a numerical problem of 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 but still 1) has confused more than enlightened. So, don’t be intimidated on this one.
2. The interest in “Trinity” for this class is not about theories or numbers. Rather, it is about community. The “Trinity” is a divine community who created a community and yearns for a community (people).
3. This divine community loved each other before the creation of the world (John 17:24), and they yearn to bring others into their community of love: “so that they love you have for me may be in them” (John 17:26). The love of this community overflows to others so as to include them. This love is other-centered, and it seeks others to join that community and experience the joyful love and peace of community.
4. Further, this community is “one”. The model for unity in the church is the unity between the Father and Son (John 17:22): “that they may be one as we are one.” The unity of the divine community (“Trinity”) is rooted in love, transparency, other-centeredness and mutual honor. This is the kind of unity that should exist in the church.
5. I will offer several texts that represent the “trinitarian” character of divine revelation: Father, Son and Spirit. These texts are: 2 Corinthians 13:14: “grace” of our Lord Jesus Christ, the “love” of God, and the “fellowship” of the Holy Spirit. Also, 1 Peter 1:2: chosen by God, washed in the blood of Jesus and sanctified by the Spirit. God initiates a plan, the Son executes it and the Spirit applies it. God elects, the Son atones and the Spirit sanctifies. This the one work of the divine community for the sake of others. They are engaged in the singular work of redemption as a unit for the sake of bringing others into their community.
6. This one work of God is illustrated by John 14-16. In particular, John 14:15-21. The Father sent the Son to reveal the Father and provide a way to the Father (John 14:6-7). The Son is now returning to the Father, but he will not leave his people as orphans (John 14:18-19). The Son will be present through his sending of the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth who will live in his people (John 14:16). This presence of the Spirit is the presence of God and Christ—we live in fellowship with the Father and Son through the presence of the Spirit. Consequently, we realize that Jesus is in the Father and we are in him and he in us (John 14:20). This is a relationship of love (John 14:21).
7. The divine community of love reaches out to us to include us in their loving community, that is, to experience the love they have for each other in relationship with them as they include us in that community (family). This community is best illustrated by the motif of “family.” The divine community is a family (Father and Son), and we are included in their family. We are adopted. As adopted children, God sends his Spirit into our hearts, crying “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).
8. This has implications for how we treat each other and the kind of unity for which we yearn and seek. We are family, and the model for how we treat each other is how God has treated us. We should treat our brothers and sisters the same way God has treated his children. We should act toward our brothers and sisters the same way the Son has treated us as brothers and sisters. We should live as people who are indwelt by the Spirit of God who bears witness that we truly are children of God. We should have the same unity that God himself has in his own community.
Questions for Discussion
1. Why do you think we do not often talk about “Trinity”? But don’t we often talk about it without using the word? We talk, for example, about Father, Son and Spirit. What scares or intimidates us in talking about “Trinity”?
2. Does thinking about the Trinity as a “divine community” help? What does that mean to you? How does it help? Do you see any problems with that analogy?
3. How does John 17:20-26 help us see what divine community is? How does the relationship between the Father and Son model the kind of unity that should exist in the church? In other words, how is the Trinity (divine community) a model for the unity (oneness) of the church?
4. What is the role of each member of the Trinity in the work of redemption? You might recall 1 Peter 1:2. What does the Father do? What does the Son do? What does the Spirit do? How is each of these a function of love?
5. How does John 14:15-21 help us understand the relationship of the Trinity to us? What are the roles of Father, Son and Spirit in this text? What is our response to God’s work for us in this text?
6. What values do you see in today’s discussion that the church as a family should apply to its life? How do we become like the divine community in our own communities (family, church)? What values do we need to think about and apply?