May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). Every Sunday I have the privilege of proclaiming this wonderful benediction at the end of the worship service. As believers in Jesus Christ, we do not serve a generic God, but acknowledge that all three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, exist together eternally. This is important because our identity as Christians is wrapped up in God as the Trinity. Our worship, our life together, and our mission are based in the understanding of the triune God.
In the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthian church, his focus was on addressing the continuing problem of special interest groups creating divisions and factions within the church. He wanted the congregation to know that such behavior is inconsistent with who God is. Paul zeroed in on the fact that God in Christ has brought reconciliation not only between God and people, but between one another in the church. So, Paul’s point in ending his epistle with this benediction was to promote reconciliation and unity within the church. Grace, love, and fellowship are available to God’s people. Just as there is unity and harmony within God himself, there is to be unity and harmony in the church. Unity will be a practical reality only when the church receives grace, love, and fellowship and then chooses to give it to one another.
Our triune God wants us to not just know what these blessings are, but to experience them. A Trinitarian understanding of God is not simply a doctrine to believe, but a powerful reality to be lived! The virtues of grace, love, and fellowship are blessings to be received and blessings that are to be liberally thrown back out to people. In this way God is glorified through his people.
God has created us in his image. That image is the image of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The way our triune God relates within himself in perfect love and fellowship is to be reflected in our own human relationships with one another.
Here are some implications of the Trinity for our relationships in the church and the world:
- We will regard everyone in the church as an equal. People are people, period. When we start referring to them other than that name of “person” we distance ourselves from them, i.e. “someone should do something” is the ultimate act of misnaming and removal from being active in people’s lives.
- We will have concern for other churches besides our own local church or ministry. We will share our resources and help each other accomplish the mission of God. Grace, love, and fellowship ought to happen between churches and ministries who share the common theological doctrine of the Trinity.
- We will treat each family member as important, i.e. avoiding terms like “black sheep” or being so upset that one doesn’t talk for years with a family member. The same goes for the family of God. God in Christ has reconciled us with the Spirit, helping us to make it a reality in our human relationships so that we really have no excuse to hold a grudge.
- We will treat all human beings with respect, dignity, and value, rather than with suspicion or for what they can do for us.
The unselfish love of the members of the Trinity spills over into love for God’s creatures, and, so, this received love ought to overflow into the lives of others. This is precisely how God is glorified. This is to be what we celebrate, and what we practice. This is theology that makes a difference. Soli Deo Gloria!