What is your image of God?
St. Nicholas church. First Sunday after Trinity, text Mark 3:20-25
What is your image of God? Most people have some image of God in their mind. For many God is pictured like a kindly old man. Does the word Trinity help you to think about God? Probably not. The passage from John’s Gospel includes a reference to God the father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine, the traditional belief about the Trinity is one God, three persons. Each person of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is fully God. In mathematical terms, 1+1+1=1. Not easy to grasp is it?
You are probably familiar with some of the ways people have come up with trying to explain the Trinity. There is the egg illustration, an egg includes the shell, the gooy white, and the yellow yolk. But of course, the problem with the illustration is that each part of the egg is separate and distinct. God is not the sum of all the parts, Father, Son and H.S.
This morning I want us to think about the Trinity. I want us to think about how we think about God.
I. Now let us think about our image of God the Father. The primary image in this understanding of God is as the creator. To speak of God as creator is not to focus on the creation process. I do not think it is very important what you believe about the creation process. The Bible and science do not make it very clear about exactly what happened, and both use picture language to try and explain creation. To think of God as creator is to think of God as being in charge of all that we know. God is over all creation because God initiated, formed and called into being all that we know. As our creator he has insight and understanding about us and all aspects of creation which no one else has. As creator, all of life around us is connected by God’s rule over creation. Everything around us shares the fact that God created it, so we must be careful how we treat creation, the earth and all its resources. We have as humans been given a responsibility to care for God’s creation. And when we care for God’s creation, we are honouring God and serving God, perhaps even worshipping God. When we think about what it means to say God the Father, one of the key images related to that expression is that God is our creator.
II. As creator, God did not create the universe and then sit back. The expression, God the Son, presents to us the image of God as the redeemer. In order to save or redeem his creation when it wandered away, God did something incredible; he became part of creation as a human. Jesus represents the image that God came and lived among us. As a result, God understands our life, God is no longer a remote, distant God who is out there.
Jesus reveals to us that God is accessible. Jesus reveals the compassion and love of God who offers healing and forgiveness. Jesus reveals that God shares in our life, shares our joys, shares our pain and suffering.
When we speak of God the Son, we speak about God revealing himself through Jesus Christ, we speak about the redeeming love of God which brings us forgiveness.
III. The third aspect to the Trinity is God the Spirit. The key image about God the Spirit is that God is active in the world and in our lives at this very moment. Jesus said, ‘I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of truth, to be with you for ever…and he will be in you’. The Holy Spirit is the image of God coming and dwelling among us. Sometimes we feel like God is far away and that we are here to face life all on our own. The image of God as the Holy Spirit confronts and challenges those feelings. Yes we feel alone at times, that is very human. But the reality is, God is at work among us and in us all the time.
The Spirit of God, is God’s presence in our lives so that we can be fully human, fully alive, so that we can become all that we are capable of becoming. By faith, when we face troubles, we can truly say, ‘I am not alone; God is with me. God will help me through this’. God the Spirit gives us the image of God who dwells with us. How we think about God is very important. The image of the Trinity helps us to understand the various ways God reveals himself to us. It helps us to understand the different functions God performs as God. This morning I have only talked about three images, God the creator, God the redeemer, and God who is with us. There is much more we could consider about the nature and person of God as trinity. As you think about God, let the image of the Trinity help you understand God and the way God relates to your life. We may not fully understand and grasp the significance and meaning of the trinity, but it can lead us to creative contemplation of who God is and lead us to worship God. Let the mystery of the trinity help you grow in your worship of God, who is father, son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons.
Revd. Dennis Stamps