When I was in my mid 20’s I went to visit my grandfather.It was not an unusual thing, me visiting him, though I regret I didn’t visit as often as I should have, but on this particular day I certainly wasn’t expecting anything different from our usual conversations.
A resident of a retirement home for a few years by then, our conversations typically gravitated to stories of his life with my grandmother. He would tell me how their marriage had been a “trial marriage” but the trial had worked out alright.
They’d been married 60 years.
The balance of longing for that kind of relationship for my own life was tempered with seeing the agony of the life he was living – sitting in his chair or lying in his bed and waiting. Waiting to die so he could join the love of his life.
On this particular day, though, my grandfather – 89 years old at the time, I believe – told me he had watched a Billy Graham revival on television and had accepted Christ as his savior and could I please explain the Trinity to him.
Now on the one hand, what an amazing thing to hear from an elderly man who I loved so dearly, but on the other, what words could I as a 20-something year old find to explain one of the most complex concepts in all of Christianity?
On a basic level, it seems pretty simple. Nearly everything I can think of is made up of multiple parts. A tree has a root system, the trunk, the leaves; a human being has the skin, the muscular-skeletal system and the internal organ system; flowers, grass, everything is made up of different pieces to form the whole.
But since we are talking about God, we know that it is not simple. God is complex and therefore God’s Trinity is complex as well.
Many questions come up when discussing Trinity. Things like if God is made up of multiple parts, how do we know that all of those parts are good? Or if God is a Triune but also One, does that mean that God was also tempted when His Son was tempted? Or died when His son died?
I don’t have the answer to these questions any more than I have the answers to how God can take a piece of Himself and send that piece to earth to live as a mortal only to be murdered and return to Himself. I didn’t have the answers when I was in my 20’s and I’ don’t have them now, but here is what I do know.
We individually are not gods nor is there any one being here on this earth that is God. Only God is God and as God, He has the power to be in more than one place at one time. He can be with me here in my time of need and also be in the point and time where all of this earthly existence has been completed and another reality has been established.
In the same way God can be in heaven guiding and directing the ministry of His son here on earth and providing all of us the peace and comfort that comes from the Holy Spirit – even before we knew of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Alright. So this is some mystical craziness that only takes place in the heavens and has nothing to do with us individually except as it pertains to our relationship with God, right?
The thing that we either don’t quite grasp about the Trinity or perhaps never really thought about is the fact that the purpose of the Trinity is just to provide excellent fodder for theological discussion.
The fact of the matter is that, as with all things of God, there is a representation in the Trinity for each of us and how God designed us to live.
No, I can’t astral-project myself to another plain to live a different existence nor can I send part of my spiritual force to others for comfort. But what I can do – and what each of us are called to do – is to live as a part of a trinity just as God does. I do this in the following way:
- Keep God at the center of my life: focusing on God, His calling for my life, and His daily direction for me knowing that His plan is perfect and has been completed in His time perfectly
- Be an earthly representation of love and grace: Though I am far from perfect, to the best of my ability, I can live my life in a way that glorifies and honors God
- Extend my arms to others creating community: I am not the Holy Spirit nor can I pretend to be, but I can extend my arms to others offering the love, grace and mercy of God
Now I would love to take credit for this little list, but the fact is it came from the sermon at my church today and it resonated so clearly to me that I had to offer it to you and here is my take away from the message.
Because God is God and God is perfect, nothing He does – now or ever – is by accident or random. God did not create Himself in the form a Trinity so we could be confused, but rather so we would have a representation of how we are supposed to live our lives. While I cannot connect with all persons in need, maybe if I keep my eyes and heart toward God, my feet planted firmly on the ground to keep me centered in the knowledge of who I am and how my actions affect others, then I can complete the trinity by reaching my arms out to touch others and they, in turn, can do the same.
If we do it right, we can all connect to one another, our collective eyes will focus on God, and our hearts will all beat as one unit with God.
I just wish I had those words when my Gramps asked me.