Summary: The church engages the world empowered and informed by the Holy Spirit.
John 16:12-25 "The Next Chapter"
Today is Trinity Sunday. It is a time when we contemplate and attempt to understand to a greater degree the God whom we worship. Often it is a rather boring Sunday as pastors around the world attempt to explain the Trinity. "The trinity is like water," we say. "The same thing can be a solid, a liquid, or a gas." Other leaders and teachers might take the more human approach, and state that though one person a man can be a father, son and husband at the same time. These are interesting thoughts, but it is difficult to see how they apply to our lives today.
Such attempts to explain the Trinity reenforce the idea that the Trinity was the invention of some theologians in an ivory tower, who are dedicated to making the faith as difficult and confusing as possible. This, however, is not the case. The Trinity is a uniquely Christian perspective of God. It evolved as Christians realized that God related to creation in different ways and as Christians struggled to communicate their faith effectively to the rather hostile world around them.
Taking the perspective that the doctrine of the Trinity was a "grassroots" idea, so to speak, opens up the reality that this Christian concept helps us see God's movement in our lives and in the world around us.
We understand God to be the Father/Creator, Son/Redeemer, and Spirit/Sanctifier. As creator, God is moving in our lives to both provide for us and protect us. God has same role that fathers have traditionally played around the world. This profound truth shapes our lives in several ways. We are able to see everything we have as a gift. Viewing everything as a gift enables us to develop an attitude of gratitude--to be thankful instead of complaining. Our understanding of God as Father enables us to be generous, as God is generous and to share the gifts that we have freely been given.
God is not only the Father, but God is also the Son. The Son became one of us, he lived, died and rose again so that we might live in the relationship with God for which we were created. Jesus' victory over death gives us the ability to view life from an eternal perspective and to live our lives beyond today.
The Holy Spirit is God's presence in our lives today. God is in us and we are in God. There is no separation between us and the God whom we worship. The Spirit's work within us molds us and shapes us into God's image. Christian growth becomes less about discipline and hard work and more about yielding--letting go and letting God.
I like what Jesus says at the beginning of this text, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
This is a hard concept for some Christians to accept. We tend to think that we know it all. We might accept that we need to continually learn new things in our profession, and we may even find time for a class on a subject that interests us. At the same time, we are content with facing the world with an eighth grade theological education, or a medieval perspective.
Some well-meaning, but misguided Christians, are still trying to argue that the world was created six thousand years ago, that wives need to be subservient to their husbands, and that women should not have a significant role in the life of the congregation. A few are still trying to locate Noah's Ark in order to prove their faith, while others attempt to convince a skeptical world that the "signs" indicated that Jesus is coming by October.
Humankind's understanding of the world and ourselves has increased and changed the past two thousand years. So has our understanding of the contents of the Bible and how those inspired words touch our lives today. The Spirit is always teaching us and the Spirit's teaching brings change to our lives. How has your faith changed because of the work of the Spirit? What new thoughts or ideas have you encountered that have allowed you to be a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ?
As Jesus speaks to his disciples, in this passage, he gives them a message of hope. He knows that his disciples are struggling and experiencing pain, but things will get better when they see him.
God is moving in our lives and in our world to bring in his kingdom. There will be a time when we will experience God's kingdom in its fullness.