Summary: People tend to think the Trinity doesn’t matter & is an hindrance & obstacle to real faith, but this is not true - sincerity is no substitute for truth.
2 Corinthians 13: v 5-14
A story is told of a little girl drawing, when her mother asks what it is she is sketching. ‘I am drawing a picture of God’ she said. The Mother tells her this is impossible, as no-one knows what God looks like; when the girl says ‘Well they will when I’m finished!’
That in a sense, is what religion & theology is all about, trying to understand what God is like. It is what one of our most particular, most defining, and most confusing doctrines is all about—the doctrine of the Trinity
John Wesley once said about the Trinity ‘Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God!’
Yet we have to think this through, not simply dismiss it, & not just because today is Trinity Sunday. ‘God in three persons, blessed Trinity’ as our hymn said (HP 7) puts it & the Bible though never talking overtly about the Trinity alludes to it, teaching that God is 3 persons - Father, Son & Holy Spirit - each equal in stature & fully divine & a fully distinct person.
The Trinity is not about God simply changing roles like an actor in a play, but there is no denying that this whole thing is more than a little confusing.
I have heard many questions about the Trinity. Questions like:-
How can God be three and one at the same time?
To whom should we pray?
Is Jesus less than Father in terms of His status?
If not, why did Jesus say that the Father was greater than Him?
Is the Holy Spirit kind of like God the Mother?
People who raise such questions often seem to conclude that the Trinity doesn’t matter & is an hindrance & obstacle to real faith. What matters is that we understand God is about love as long as we are sincere about it.
Maybe that is you today, not feeling the Trinity is important?
But sincerity is no substitute for truth.
We cannot reject things just because they difficult. Indeed we are called by our God to worship Him with all of our faculties, including our intellect, & even though in a real sense we can never truly understand the Trinity, we cannot dismiss it either.
The Trinity is important because our image of God determines what our faith will look like. Sincerity is not the be all & end all of life, for some of the most misguided people are often also most sincere. If our thinking on the Trinity is way off beam, so too will be our faith.
Today I hope together we will understand the Trinity is a theological concern is not just for those in ivory towers, by thinking about 3 errors in the way we see God.
It is of course a well known fact that several modern movements in the Church have placed great emphasis on the work of Holy Spirit. In particular they have emphasized the filling or baptism of the Spirit & prioritised the gifts of the Spirit. This has had a much needed positive effect on the Church as it has reintroduced into Christian worship many things that were once forgotten.
I have been personally greatly blessed by such movements - coming to faith in a Pentecostal Church & being filled with the Spirit & able to speak in tongues since.
However, excessive &/or exclusive emphasis on the Holy Spirit is always dangerous. When we speak of the Holy Spirit only & neglect the Father and Son, we develop a lopsided form of Christianity that always descends in emotionalism & loss of order. We risk also becoming about feelings & can end up confusing our own human spirit with the Spirit of God.
Someone once described the Spirit to me as the shy member of the Trinity, meaning He doesn’t draw attention to Himself, but brings Jesus into focus.
A solid Trinitarian theology will avoid the excess of a ‘Spirit-Only’ approach.
If some put all their emphasis on the Spirit, others, a larger group commit a different error, placing an exclusive stress on the person of Jesus, meaning that the work of the Father and Holy Spirit is ignored.
This group of people think nothing else matters but ‘my personal saviour’ & everything is about ‘Jesus and me’, which is kind of reinforced by some of the modern songs we sing in worship like ‘My Jesus, My Saviour’ for instance.
I often hear people say they can only every imagine God as Jesus & that it is ok to relate to God in this way. But it isn’t ok. It leads us to a place where Jesus is so personalised that he seems to lose any sense of divinity. Jesus is just my pal, my buddy, my friend.