by Steven Gledhill for FREEdom from MEdom Project
What is it about what is known as the Holy Trinity that is deemed crucial to Christian faith? How does one come to unravel the mystery contained in its wonder? What does it mean to have relationship with and within the triune family that is God? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what to conclude about the Trinity. To conclude something would suggest that I fully grasp it. I’m not sure I even comprehend it that well, much less understand it. Let’s goes a bit deeper into the relationships within the Trinity and how They have invited us into the family through marriage to the Son. How ’bout we give it a spin together and see how it goes.
“We were designed by our Trinitarian God (who Himself is a group of three persons in profound relationship with each other) to live in relationship. Without it, we die. It’s that simple.” —Larry Crabb, New Way Ministries
“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)
“The three divine persons are not there simply for themselves. They are there for one another. They are persons in social relationship. The Father can only be called Father in relationship with the Son. The Son can be called Son only in relationship with the Father. The Spirit is the breath of the One who speaks.” —Jurgeen Moltmann, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tübingen (Germany)
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Galatians 4:6 (NKJV)
What does it mean to have dwelling in the believer the Spirit of his Son? What does it mean to have relationship with God, having received his Spirit into your life? Who is this Holy Spirit?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
When considering this union between Father, Son, and Spirit, the elephant in the room is this question: “Who (what) is the Holy Spirit?”
The word often translated “spirit” from Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, also means “breath” or “wind.” Jesus said of the Holy Spirit,
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (NKJV)
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:25-26 (NKJV)
It has been said by folks (including me) that the Holy Spirit is in fact Jesus Christ himself.
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:9-10 (NKJV)
This Scripture and others like it seem to support that the person of the Holy Spirit is made manifest in the person of Jesus Christ. But that same passage of Scripture goes on to say,
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11 (NKJV)
Go back and look closely at the passage where Jesus is quoted by the Apostle John. Jesus said that God the Father will send a helper in the name of Christ. Paul the Apostle writes that it was the person of the Holy Spirit that raised the Son from the experience of death and condemnation for sin. At least at that moment, the Holy Spirit is clearly the “agent” responsible for the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, where Jesus was powerless. It appears as though it is the Holy Spirit that exalts the Son into his rightful place as King of kings, Lord of lords, and the Bridegroom married to those in right relationship with him.
So, is the Holy Spirit the spiritual version… reality… that is Jesus Christ, and/or is the Holy Spirit the third person in the triune relationship that is God? Is Jesus seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father, while the Holy Spirit is the personal force of their authority that gives us life, tethering us to the family that is God? Jesus came in the flesh in the name of the Father, saying that he and the Father are one, but did he suggest that he is in effect the Father when he stated, “When you have seen me you have seen the Father”?
I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. John 5:30 (NLT)
It is clear that Jesus in the flesh is dependent on God the Father; even finding it necessary to spend more than a month praying and fasting in preparation for the challenges of ministry; which ultimately was his service to mankind through his sacrifice for sin.
What was the relationship of the Holy Spirit to Jesus “in the likeness of sinful flesh” Romans 8:3)?
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord. Isaiah 11:2-3 (NLT)
The “him” and the “he” is Jesus. Even Jesus, God made flesh, needed a divine helper for strength, courage, temperance, and power. Is this a complex explorative conversation, or what?
To be in relationship with God is to belong to the family that is God. What is a family? A family has more than one member. There is the husband, the wife—the mother and father—and their children. United, they are a family. The family that is God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I wondered for decades growing up into adulthood, how long did God exist before he decided his next move? And I wondered, why now (“now” being the time God began creating)? After all these… I would say years, centuries, millenniums… but time would not come into play until God created the mechanics for time, right? What is time before the earth goes into rotation on its axis while orbiting around a star? It kind of bothered me that God existed alone in nothingness prior to creation. Intellectually, I prefer things to make some sense.
My problem, I suppose, was that I considered the Trinity as three characteristics or attributes of one person. I am a husband, a father, a son, a grandfather, a sibling, a friend… you get the idea. I am all of those people but I am one person. I did not really think much deeper to recognize that I cannot be any of those characteristics of my personhood without the existence of everyone that I am husband to, father to, son to, brother to, uncle to, friend to, etc. So for God to be father, son, and spirit, there would have to be the recipient of his fatherhood, his sonship, and that of the role of the spirit. If the Father, Son, and Spirit all existed forever together, maybe things begin to make a more sense.
I was reading some of what C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, about the Trinity. He writes that as a cube has six sides that each on their own are individual, the sides together are one cube. So as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on their own are individual and are each God, together they are one God. What I get from that is as one family is made up of various members that individually are family, together they are one family. So it is with God… the family that is God. God the Father is father to the son. God the Son is son to the Father. The Holy Spirit is God who is the breath of life to all of creation, empowering you and I to be sons and daughters to the Father, and bride to God the Son.
Together, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have defined what love is for all time. They have always been in communion as three specific persons united together in love… never lonely… always fulfilled. United as one in relationship, they are God. United, they have always been God; always being eternal going backwards, into the present, and from now on going forward. Altogether, the Father, Son, and Spirit, the New Testament tells us, are the family of the Bridegroom, and we who accept his hand in marriage, are the bride. Another way to say it is that God the Son reached out his hand to us in marriage, and we who accept are the bride of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters into the family of They that are altogether God. Through relationship with Jesus Christ, we are full inheritors of everything that is God and of God.
Let’s get into that a bit.
While I was deeply and profoundly moved reading The Shack by William P. Young, it was not because I found it theologically and doctrinally accurate. It is considered by scholars to be flawed on many levels. I read it as a fictional masterpiece as it artfully (again, not necessarily theologically) articulated for me the relationship within the triune union that is God. It was the image scorched into my spirit of the compassionate unified love shared between Father, Son, and Spirit—a perfectly selfless, yet fulfilled, intimate bond. I barely comprehend the Trinity, but in accepting its reality, I embrace the indescribable qualities that I am attempting to articulately write about.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in US, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as WE are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23 (NKJV)
I have researched Greek and Hebrew translations of Scripture and read commentaries, and such. I don’t always agree and find some scholars to be narrow-minded in their approach to spiritual possibilities that dare challenge certain seemingly intellectual sensibilities that I consider to be realistic theology.
I do not intend here to write intellectually or educationally so much as relationally. How does relationship with all three persons that are God occur? What difference does it make to identify and embrace ‘them’, rather than ‘him’? Maybe there is no difference. Maybe the difference is substantial for all of the right reasons. What if we do someday visibly see all three persons that are God when we are glorified with him? What is that for you? I don’t know what is for me, but I am obviously curious, intrigued, fascinated, and excited to experience the moment that I get to interact with him… I mean them.
What made a deeply profound impact on me was the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, regardless of how they were fictionally and allegorically characterized. The incredible love exchanged in how they dealt with one another blew me away. They were the first family, perfected in humility, through eternal existence unto the present day and forever more. Their expressed desire for relationship with you and with me was every bit as impressive.
(Fictional) Jesus is speaking and says in The Shack, “We have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. Papa (God the Father) is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu (God the Spirit) to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”
The above took harsh criticism in one review I read. The critic sited Scripture from John 17 as an example of authoritative distinction between the superior position of God the Father and the inferior position of God the Son. The problem with this criticism is that in John 17 Jesus is fully man having laid down his divine privilege and authority, and in John 5:30 declares that he does not seek his own will but rather that of his Father. The story of The Shack takes place a couple of thousand years later. The person that is Jesus is King and Lord. The person that is the Father is sovereign, and the person that is Spirit is nurturing and comforting. Authentic communion within the relationships that are altogether God do not need hierarchy or protocol.
When the age of perfection comes, from glory to glory the veil is lifted, and revelation is realized in literal experience. While we will forever be submitted under the authority that is God, it will not really be necessary for it to be enforced or even considered, for that matter. The experience of glory in God’s heaven will be all about you and me in communion with the three that are God, as well as in communion with one another. The experience lay peacefully in a bed of humility. Mutual submission will be natural, modeled by the three persons that are God. It is all about relationship as we love God with all that we are, and love one another as ourselves in perfect (1 Corinthians 13) love. God will have elevated our standing in glory to the point that as we behold the magnificence of the glory of Jesus, for us it will be as looking in a mirror. The relationship that they that are God ultimately want with us is to experience identity and relationship with Them and one another on There level.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete… But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 (NLT)
A moment in the Gospel of John that seems to speak of relationship between Them who are God (eternal Father, Son, and Spirit) and Their children is in the story of Jesus and Lazarus when Jesus was deeply troubled, even angry, about bringing him from eternal living in glory and perfection (fulfilled desire) in glorious fellowship back into the time of perishing: struggle, pain, decay, and death. Lazarus would be sucked back from perfect love, peace and joy known as Paradise into imperfection, disappointment and failure. Lazarus would return from everything that is known and complete back into childish confusion and brokenness.
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled… Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. John 11:33, 38 (NLT)
It is a juxtaposition from when Jesus tells the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Lazarus was there enjoying festive fellowship with they that are God. All three of them. He was on that side of eternity, which means that even eternal glorified Jesus was there with him; eternally, where time does not exist; or at least it isn’t relevant. Jesus on the temporal mortal side of eternity may have had some explaining to do when “mortal” Lazarus would again behold his friend in from this side. How Lazarus must have enjoyed perfect love in face-to-face relationship with God.
In The Shack, Mack is the fictional character in the middle of it all. Since his young daughter was taken from him through her death, he has questions; a lot of questions for the three that are God there with him in some run down shack. Wanting to understand the eternal plight of his daughter, Mack asks questions that speak to eternal belonging to and relationship with God. The following is the fictional response from Jesus that is harshly criticized by evangelical scholars as bordering on, if not full blown, heresy.
Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”
Mack then asks the obvious question, “Do all roads lead to Christ?” Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”
Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” (God the Father) chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”
While the doctrinal criticism is valid, the spirit of relationship with God is front and center. I personally have relationships with Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses that, while they may be doctrinally (and theologically) flawed about Jesus, believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior for forgiveness of their sin. Christian folks will say that their belief in Jesus as the son of God is a false belief (belonging to cults), or a belief in “another Jesus”, if they do not acknowledge Jesus as God. So evangelical Christians are trained to not answer their doors when Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons come to talk about relationship with God. They reject them out of hand in many cases.
God’s children to migrate from most every religious system before actually and authentically entering into relationship with God. Are we really going to be arrogant enough to insist that relationship with God is exclusive to sound religious doctrine? Did Jesus explain to the thief on the cross who he was doctrinally before inviting him to join him in paradise? What did Jesus tell Zachhaeus and his hedonistic friends about who he was before obvious transformation through salvation was realized through experience? What about the converted folks in the book of Acts who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit before growing in the instruction of sound doctrine?
Did Jesus leave his divine standing to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh until he died on a cross condemning sin to merely be exclusive about it? There is plenty to be said for sound doctrinal instruction and understanding. Paul writes to Timothy to remain plugged in to teaching and promoting sound doctrine. There is no doubt folks diluting and polluting the Gospel until it is barely recognized, but please know that the Gospel is inclusive to all in need of the Savior.
Once you recognize that Jesus came to pardon you from your selfish sinful behavior that separated you from fellowship with God, you are in fact reconciled into relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When relationship is real, your values, attitudes, and behavior reflect that.
I will extend what I have received from God to each one and all that he leads to me along the journey. I will share with them truth and life. I will enjoy relationship with these brothers and sisters. Then, I will love them as having been included into favor with God. The question of their eternity is between them and God. Only God knows their heart.
“For me, everything is about Jesus and Father and the Holy Spirit, and relationships, and life is an adventure of faith lived one day at a time.” —William P. Young
Relationship between God and me requires submission, even surrender; mine, and most importantly; Their’s. God in a sense surrendered to my will before I was born as the consequence for my independence from his will. What I mean is that They that are God knew from the beginning that mankind would be seduced by the tempter into sin; that we would indeed place other gods before Them. So, they had a plan to rescue us from ourselves. Since sin cannot have a place in the beautiful relationship that is the family of God, Their plan would require a sacrifice. Sin—selfish ambition, greed, jealousy, resentment, hatred, rage, revenge, lust, gluttony, madness and badness—would need to be cast out from the family relationship. So the Son surrendered heaven and his divine authority. The Three went in this together to make a way for us.
And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. Revelation 13:8 (NLT)
God the Son implemented the plan of surrender in order to pay the ransom for our sin.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)
Something I have tried to understand and then try to explain (based on my limited understanding) is what it means that God the Son “gave up his divine privileges.” While he continued to be in nature God, morphed (begotten into human form), if you will, into a human person, he willingly laid down his divine authority, and dare I say, even his divine nature to fully experience the nature of humanity, with all of the desires that can result in falling from what humanity was originally intended to be. Jesus would come to us to see what selfish looks like; to feel what selfish feels like.
This High Priest of ours understands (sympathizes with) our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
It is my opinion, and perhaps mine alone (at least that’s how it feels), that God the Son could not truly be tempted to sin if he could not in fact commit sin. Therefore, he would need to empty himself of even his divine nature to experience the temptation of a human nature. If he has both natures simultaneously and they clash, how can temptation to sin be authentic and actually be experienced; not really anyway. Wouldn’t his divine nature trump his human nature in the face of any suggestion to stray, each and every time? If Jesus was not tempted by selfishness to act out selfishly, then such temptation is ingenuine—inauthentic—and isn’t really temptation at all. It would compromise, if not completely sabotage the integrity of Hebrews 4:15.
If God the Son was fully divine in the flesh why would he need to depend on God the Father. That’s when someone argues that Jesus chose to depend on the Father. Such dependence would be ingenuine and a bit foolish if he didn’t NEED to depend on God. If Jesus did or said anything simply to fulfill prophecy (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”) rather than from a place of utter experience, that too is ingenuine, and no more than playing a part.
I believe the first family that is the Triune God—the Holy Trinity—experienced something of a family crisis as Jesus would experience death and condemnation on account of sin. What a blow to everything They are. When God the Son experienced all of what dying and death is, the Father and Spirit experienced death so far beyond our experience when we lose our closest family member. We cannot imagine it.
The union was broken! They did that for you and for me, since that is what it cost—everything—for us to have relationship with Them.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3 (NKJV)
To be in relationship with God requires submission and surrender to the reality of holiness, since They who are God are holy. They cannot be anything less than holy. We, in our sin, are not holy and unable to ever on our own achieve it. So God planned a way to holiness for us through the human life, death, and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus Christ. It would require that Jesus surrender his divinity to become human enough to be flawed enough that he could die, since God cannot die… flesh enough that he could sin, since God cannot sin. The reality has to be that Jesus in the flesh could sin or he could not be tempted to sin, since temptation… honest, genuine temptation is from within the desire of a person to want his own way, independent from the way that is godly. The sacrifice of just that is astounding and speaks to the lengths God would go to empower us to be holy enough to be reconciled unto his nature of divine holiness.
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Mark 10:17-18 (NKJV)
Most commentaries from Biblical scholars will not accept the notion that Jesus has assumed a position of submission to God the Father as a man of flesh without divine authority; that having humbled himself to the point of laying down his divine nature and standing, made himself somehow less than holy on his own, without whatever holiness was imparted to him by God the Father. Scholars and scribes comment that Jesus acknowledged in his response that he is called good because only God is good and he is being called good.
It is clear that the “good” that Jesus is talking about here is clearly defined. It is good of the highest standard; holiness, righteous or best, perfect. If that is the definition and standard of what is meant by good, then only God is good. Most scholars tend to suggest that the original Greek translation for the use of the word ‘good’ in this conversation between the man and Jesus is agathos, meaning good, profitable, generous, upright, virtuous, of high moral quality. Jesus took it to the next level, mandating that the only one who truly meets that definition is, in fact, God; that to be truly (authentically) virtuous is to be without flaw; to be truly generous is to hold back nothing; to be truly moral is to be perfect. So Bible scholars tend to agree that Jesus is saying that these attributes apply to himself as God.
Is that what Jesus is saying?
“Consider how our Lord regards His own Sonship, surrendering His will wholly to the paternal will and not even allowing Himself to be called ‘good’ because Good is the name of the Father. Love between father and son, in this symbol, means essentially authoritative love on the one side, and obedient love on the other. The father uses his authority to make the son into the sort of human being he, rightly, and in his superior wisdom, wants him to be.” —CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Dowry for the Ages
The road to relationship with God was constructed and paved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Had Jesus come to us as anything more than having the full nature of the flesh, which was made a little lower than even the angels if Jesus was fully man in the flesh (Psalm 8:4-5), then he could not have sinned, and therefore could not really be tempted to sin. Had Jesus been fully God in the flesh, he certainly could not have died. It doesn’t even make sense that God can truly experience death since God can be nothing less than God in any way at any time, if he is indeed God.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)
Evangelical scholars insist that the miracle is that God did die. Why can’t the miracle be that They that are God loved us so much that one of them, Jesus, willingly denied, even defied, his nature as God (in agreement with Father and Spirit), and became fully flesh to not only pay the wages for my sin and yours, but to know and understand our weaknesses fully in the flesh as to experience fully what we experience? Jesus knows you and me because he has been you and me. Jesus was born into sin flawed like us, yet he did not sin. He did what he did surrendered into complete dependence to the Father as the role model for how to do this thing we refer to as living in a fallen world.
They that are God experienced in Jesus the pain of disappointment, grief, and even death. In Jesus, They know us intimately on every level from greed to despair, from thrills to panic, from villain to victim, from shame to peace, from sorrow to joy. In Jesus, they that are God relate to us fully and completely. Jesus, as our high priest, our advocate, does not have to fight for us since in his resurrection, we are raised with him and fully reconciled through him. We are known through him by the Father and the Spirit. We are loved recklessly and relentlessly by all of God. There are no conditions of such love. Nothing can or will separate us from it.
Because of what Jesus did, having surrendered his authority as God to be the sacrifice for sin, the only condition to relationship with God is you and me being willing to participate in this beautiful wondrous relationship. What does it mean for you and for me to willingly engage in relationship with Them?
I have said all of this to communicate the depths of God’s (Triune God) love for us. Please consider that such a Holy trio known as God experienced suffering that we cannot know. God sacrificed beyond anything we will ever know or comprehend on this side of glory. This relationship that we can experience with God and in God cost God everything.
The mystery is in the question, “Why?” Why would God endure so much betrayal and rejection to have relationship with us humans? Even the angels are mystified that God would do so much, and sink so low, to redeem such a faithless, unappreciative component of his creation. I would think that we are seen by those living in the heavenly realms (angels) and other spiritual realities (fallen angels) as senseless. “Will they ever get it?” “Who on earth do they think they are?” It’s laughable to them that we believe we control stuff.
If coming to my senses is also about my higher power making good on promises to help me, strengthen me, and comfort me, by taking from me my pain, and providing for me the ease and peace as only he can do with any sustaining success, then why wouldn’t I trust in this relationship? If I have an experiential relationship with my higher power that is helpful and good to me and for me, engaged in that relationship, I will embrace the favor of the one who blessed me with favor, and partake of the life that comes from applying its power to my life.
One needs to see and believe that spiritual recovery from a false sense of control is so much more about relationship and so much less about religion. When fear inherent in religion is replaced by hope and compassion from Those who love us and invite us into the life of God through relationship, such relationship is most compelling.
Part of my problem in my relationship with Them (God in three persons) is that I am not that good at giving in relationships. I am too much of a taker. My issues with selfish entitlement, and my problem with being so possessive and controlling with my time, renders me less than an ideal partner in my closest relationships. I rob my wife of my time and energy, and I rob God of my time and energy in relationship. I want it all in my relationships but tend not to adequately give to them. I suppose that can make it more arduous to more fully comprehend what it means to have a deeply intimate relationship with God.
I suppose that I envy those who have the kind of spiritual experience in relationship with God that is that intimate and special. There really are people that have and know that. They get from their relationship with God (Father, Son, and Spirit) what they put into it. What they invest into the relationship is their availability with open and giving hearts. Brothers and sisters in relationship with God actively engage through sincere participation and attentional engagement. They talk to God and hear from God in ways that are loving and passionate. They consistently communicate with God, serve Them in surrendered obedience, and maintain an attitude of worship that is reflected in how they live. They do not settle. They want it all—everything that God wants and has for them.
Marriage is about experiencing intimacy. While intimacy is passionate, it is so much more than that. There is a joy in the experience of intimacy that is altogether indescribable and unforgettable. It is necessary to a healthy marriage. I have had glimpses into those kinds of experiences in relationship with God but find that I tend not to crave intimacy with God as I feel I ought. There are millions of folks out there that would read this and have no idea what I am talking about; those that are on a flight to heaven but have no idea what they are missing in their relationship with God and no real idea what to look forward to. I pray that I can and will want more than glimpses into what is so awesome about relationship with They that are God.
“Each person of the Trinity loves, honors, and glorifies the other and receives love and honor back from the others… We suffer from an individualistic dog-eat-dog mentality. We are determined not to submit to anyone. The harmony and love within the Trinity is so distinct from our own human natures that He has to transform us with that same love for community to happen… My excitement deepens when I realize that this triune God lives within me. He is molding and shaping me from within to be a relational disciple. The Trinity resides in every believer—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… God Himself is the One doing the transforming, and His goal is to mold us in His image.” —Joel Comiskey, The Relational Disciple
“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)
So here we are. What really does it mean to be in relationship with God? How does what we understand about the original family that is God help us to better comprehend who and what we are as married into this family?
Marriage is a union that requires a commitment. When a marriage is healthy, everything about it is beautiful and amazing. The intimacy between a committed bride and committed bridegroom is as beautiful and lasts as long as the union is healthy. People in relationships just for the sex tend not to be healthy and don’t last forever. There is no glory in it.
If you read the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John you will read that Jesus recognized those who really were not in it for the commitment to be ‘all in’ concerning relationship with him. When he told them what it meant to experience union with him in marriage, those that were just in it for the sex wanted nothing to do with getting married and about that level of deep submitted relationship said to themselves,
“This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” John 6:60 (NLT)
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. John 6:66-67 (NLT)
So, when Jesus asked his disciples what they wanted, they communicated to him that they better get married since marriage to Jesus is where real life is.
Back to the man asking about eternal life. The man was secure in his wealth and so the only thing missing was heaven. Jesus understood that the man wanted the benefits of marriage, but did he really want relationship with the Bridegroom? So Jesus communicated to the man that for the marriage to be authentic, the man’s stuff was not compatible with the stuff of the Bridegroom. So Jesus told the man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor. Only then would marriage be possible.
Even though the man’s riches paled in comparison to the prosperity that comes in marriage into the family through God the Son, “he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19:22)
I believe that is what Jesus meant when he said (paraphrasing), “Seek first coming into my family and everything that is best in marriage together and experience everything that comes to you in this union.”
What relationship with God is meant to be is not really an intellectual argument. It is an inclusive Gospel. The narrow gate is marriage. The Bridegroom comes through it pursuing us and we must be willing to enter through it with him into the family that is God. There is only one way to the life that is in the truth of real relationship with God.
So, who is in relationship with God the Father, Son, and Spirit through marriage to the Son? Who am I to say?
You can know for sure that They know.