Summary: The Spirit works with us to guide us closer to God in faith and helps us to do his work in the world. In this way, the Holy Spirit acts as our helper. He lives inside us and knows us even better than we know ourselves.
There was once a teacher who was teaching first grade in a large elementary school. One morning all of the teachers were called to the staff room for an emergency meeting, and they hurried over, leaving their classes unsupervised. All of the teachers were worried, but none more so than this particular teacher, because her class was especially mischievous and unruly.
When they got to the staff room, the teacher decided to listen in and find out what was going on in her classroom. She turned on the intercom, and sure enough her room was in chaos. Children were yelling, jumping and throwing things. But one little voice stood out above the others. The teacher recognized the voice. She picked up the intercom and in her sternest voice said, “Elizabeth, sit down!!!!!!!!”
Immediately, the room fell silent. After a few seconds, a small humble voice answered meekly, “Okay, God”
I’d like to jog your memories for a few moments. Most of you, especially the older members of this congregation, may remember the TV series “Perry Mason” or perhaps you’ve read some of the Perry Mason novels that were written by Erle Stanley Gardner. If you are closer to my age, you may remember the Perry Mason made-for-TV movies that came out in the 1980s. In any event, from September of 1957 to October of 1966, Perry Mason tried 270 murder cases on television, and more in the novels and made-for-TV movies, and only lost two of them AT FIRST GLANCE. In both of those cases, he came through with new information and at the last moment reversed the verdict and cleared his client. The mere mention of his name struck the fear of God into the hearts of any prosecutor. Well folks, there IS one prosecutor that even Perry Mason cannot beat, and that is the Holy Spirit.
Today, as we celebrate Trinity Sunday, we can think of the Trinity as a courtroom. God is the judge, the Holy Spirit is the prosecutor, and Jesus is our defense lawyer. When the prosecutor, the Holy Spirit, presents his case, no one will have any defense on their own; however, everyone can have a defense because Jesus Christ has offered to take any case for free if he is allowed to, because he has already paid the ultimate price for our defense. If he is not allowed to take our case, and the verdict of “guilty” rings out for all eternity, every defendant will acknowledge it is true, and the entire world will know it. To me, this analogy is accurate but harsh. I prefer to think of the Trinity in terms of mediation in a dispute. God is the mediator/arbiter, Jesus represents our side of the dispute, and the Holy Spirit represents the other side.
The concept of the Trinity is a difficult concept for us to grasp, and part of this problem lies in how it is presented in John’s Gospel. John wrote his Gospel for an audience that was primarily Greek. The Greeks were leaders in science, thought and philosophy. In other words, Greek society was very intelligent and highly sophisticated, especially in terms of understanding abstract concepts. This is one reason why John’s Gospel is very theological in nature.
Trinitarian Theology is complicated for a reason. The very complications of the Trinity are designed to bring us closer to God. There is something we need to know. We don’t know everything about God, but we know everything about Him that we need to know. The Scriptures assure us of that. We do not have to understand everything, spiritual or non-spiritual the minute we become adults and that includes the Trinity. We know enough to save us. God pours out grace upon us, in abundance and consistently, whether we realize it or not. The Holy Spirit helps us and the Church to understand all of what Jesus said, especially what he said about God.
The Trinity is one of the most fascinating aspects of Christian theology, but it is also one of the most controversial. It is a mystery to us because it is a reality that is above our human ability to understand things. We can begin to grasp it on our own, but we must really discover it through worship, symbol and faith. In essence, the Trinity is the belief that God is one in essence, but distinct in person. In other words, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are somehow distinct from one another, yet at the same time they are completely united in essence, will and tasks.
The Trinity is a mystery, but this does not mean a riddle. Instead, the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension that we may begin to grasp, but ultimately must know through worship, symbol and faith. In order to understand it, we must live in the light of its implications for our human lives. The relationship that exists among the three divine persons suggests to us that we can know God through our relationships---not only in God’s relationship to us, but to the entire created world.