Trinity: What are the practical implications of the Trinity?
Indeed, while that which is hypothetical, theoretical, and philosophical may be interesting to a few people, only that which is practical is of service to all people. Subsequently, we have chosen to close this chapter with some practical implications of the doctrine of the Trinity.
First, Trinitarian life is humble. The doctrine of the Trinity is so complex and wonderfully mysterious that it humbles us. While God can be known truly, he cannot be known fully. This forces us to be humble in our understanding of God and establishes a precedent in our thinking to allow room for mystery, as we indeed see and know in part, as Scripture states [FOOTNOTE: 1 Cor. 13:12].
Second, Trinitarian life is loving. When 1 John 4:7 says, “Love is from God,” it is revealing that love emanates from the Trinitarian community of God. Trinitarian love includes love for God, family, friend, neighbor, stranger, and even enemy. This is because, even though we were enemies of God, estranged by sin, Jesus came to be our neighbor, loved us as a friend, died for our sins to make us family, and shared with us God’s love.
Third, Trinitarian life is worshipful. We are to live all of our life to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Spirit.
Fourth, Trinitarian life is relational. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God [Father], and the Word was God.” In the original Greek, John is saying that God the Father and God the Son were proverbially face-to-face in eternity past. This is the language of friendship, which compels us to live face-to-face with others in companionship and relationship. This is why Christians practice hospitality to strangers and why we participate in the life of a local church as we live face-to-face with their spouses and children. All of this is to practice for the day when, as Paul says, we too will see Jesus “face to face.” [FOOTNOTE: Ibid.]
Fifth, Trinitarian life is unified and diverse like a healthy family. Greek Christian theologians are fond of describing the Trinity with the term perichoresis. As the three persons of the Trinity are mutually indwelling, or permeating one another, we are deeply connected as God’s human family, yet we retain our own identity. The term Christian is a bit like a last name that reveals the connection between all family members.
Sixth, Trinitarian life is submissive. As we hear Jesus teaching us to pray, “Your will be done,” [FOOTNOTE Matt. 6:10] and himself praying, “Not my will, but yours, be done,” [FOOTNOTE: Luke 22:42] while sweating like drops of blood from anxiety caused by his looming his crucifixion, we learn to submit ourselves to the will of the Father by the Spirit like the Son.
Seventh, Trinitarian life is joyful. Tim Keller explains:
To glorify something or someone is to praise, enjoy, and delight in them. When something is useful you are attracted to it for what it can bring you or do for you. But if it is beautiful, then you enjoy it simply for what it is. Just being in its presence is its own reward. To glorify someone is also to serve or defer to him or her. Instead of sacrificing their interests to make yourself happy, you sacrifice your interests to make them happy. Why? Your ultimate joy is to see them in joy. [ENDNOTE #1]
What Keller is rightly saying is that the Trinity is the place of the greatest joy that has ever been or ever will be; each member delights in the others and pours himself out continuously for the good of the others in unparalleled joyful healthy relationship. Indeed, another synonym for the Trinity is Happy.
The God of the Bible is in himself eternally personal, emotional, and relational. Some religions teach that God made people to cure his loneliness; conversely, the fact is that God as a Trinitarian community was never without loving community. Rather, he is a relational God who welcomes us into relationship with himself.
In closing, the Trinity is not a doctrine to be philosophized beyond the teachings of Scripture but rather a humble, loving, worshipful, relational, diverse, submissive, and joyful life to be entered into by the Spirit through the Son to the Father.
God is good. God made you. God made this world as a home for you to live in and have a loving and life-giving relationship with Him, the rest of His earthly family of human beings, along with His spiritual family of spirit beings.
This is why we are starving for refreshing relationships. We want someone to love us and that we can love, someone who we can trust and can trust us, we want someone to speak with and hear from. What we really need is a Someone. Your relationship with God is supposed to be your first priority, source of healthy living, and model for all your other relationships. Your relational needs are God-sized. Even a good friend is a bad God. There is no relationship with anyone that can replace your relationship with God. If you follow the deepest longings of your soul, they will lead you back to the God who made you for a relationship with Him.
Admittedly, the doctrine of the Trinity is complex to comprehend. Sadly, various analogies have been used to try and explain the Trinity in physical terms such as water, ice, and mist. The problem with these kinds of analogies is that they are physical and not relational. Perhaps the best way to consider how God can be three persons but one is to consider that, in the covenant of marriage, a husband and wife, though two distinct persons, are supposed to be “one”. [FOOTNOTE: Genesis 2:24] In fact, the same Hebrew word echad used for the husband and wife is also referred to as the Trinitarian God of the Bible in the refrain which ancient Jewish believers said three times a day, “The Lord, our God, the Lord is one.” [FOOTNOTE: Deuteronomy 6:4] You were made from relationship, made for relationship, and are made by relationship which explains why God speaks to us.
- Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin, 2008), 214.