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Most of us are familiar with the Abbott and Costello routine, “Who’s on First?” It’s a hilarious attempt by Abbott to tell Costello the names of the players on his baseball team. “Who’s on first, What’s on second and I Don’t Know’s on third.” As the routine unfolds Costello grows frustrated because he believes Abbott isn’t answering his questions.
To some, explaining the Trinity may sound like a “Who’s on First? routine. “God is one, but God is three, comprising of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” But the truth of the matter is, the Bible clearly reveals that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and these three share perfect love, joy, unity, peace and fellowship.
The doctrine of the Trinity helps us understand how God is in relationship as one divine Being. This is important to us because, as Jesus teaches and we find echoed throughout the New Testament, we are all included in that relationship. We’re not outsiders or strangers. Through Jesus, the incarnate Son of God we become children of God, sharing in his union and communion with the Father and the Spirit. Through him we become part of what Christians call the family of God.
The reason God teaches us through Scripture that he is Father, Son and Spirit, and not just a "great being out there somewhere," is so we would know his true nature and character. We discover that he is not merely loving at times, but that he is love in his own eternal being. This God, who is a fellowship of triune love, really does love us and we can be in relationship with him. But how do we know? Because Jesus, who is Emmanuel, which means “God with us” is also the eternal Son of God “in the flesh," the one the Father sent not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17).
Jesus is the Father’s Son who came to reconcile us to God and teach us that his Father is our Father and he has become our Brother. Further, he said as he is united with the Father, he is also united with us and we with him. In other words, we are connected to the Trinity through Jesus. He includes us in himself. So in prayer he says, “I ask …that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us… I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one … so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:20-26).
This was his plan from the very beginning – to share his life with us, the life the Son has shared eternally with the Father and the Spirit. Understanding God as Trinity is understanding God’s plan to bring us into union and communion with himself through the Son and by the Spirit.
This is why many in the Christian church set aside a day every year to celebrate Trinity Sunday. That day acts as a reminder that God lives in relationship as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we are included in that relationship of holy love.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.