While Jesus walked with the disciples, they struggled to understand what he was talking about, they stumbled in their attempts to follow him and at the end of his life they surrendered to their fear and deserted Jesus at the cross. 2 months later that same group of people began to stand up and boldly proclaim the truth of God. They courageously told everyone that Jesus had been crucified but then was raised from the dead and then that same group of people slowly began to change the world. It was a dramatic transformation that could only be explained by one thing – the power of God. The Holy Spirit that came upon them was in fact the power of God. In the Holy Spirit God was present in the followers of Jesus and working through them God was going to change the world and continue the work began in Jesus. There is nothing else that explains what happened among the followers of Jesus and that first church – the power of God – God himself – had come to fill them.
God was now being seen, heard and felt through the Holy Spirit which is the third significant way God has revealed himself in the world. In the beginning God appeared as creator of not only the heavens and the earth but of Adam and Eve. God was the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Israel. In Jesus God came to earth as the Son, the Son of God. Jesus was God in human form to show us what life and love and truth looked like and God was here to lead all the world in living out the principles and values of God’s kingdom. Jesus was God, God in the flesh and then after Jesus ascended into heaven God came back into this world as the Holy Spirit. God was the spirit that filled the disciples with power and courage and began a movement that has changed the world. So God has been seen, heard and experienced in three unique and significant ways – Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we call this the Trinity.
The word Trinity does not mean three Gods, but one God in three person or three unique and specific forms of being in the world. The word Trinity is never found in the Bible but the idea is clearly biblical because God has been described and talked about as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What we believe about the Trinity is not always easy to grasp because we believe that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all fully God. God the Father is fully God. God the son, or Jesus, was fully God in a human form, and God the Holy Spirit is the full power of God in the form of a spirit or power at work in this world. It’s one God but three persons.
Three persons but One God. Any attempt to explain the Trinity comes up short. For centuries people have tried to compare the trinity to all kinds of things.
There has been the three leaf clover – one clover but three leaves each unique but all part of the whole.
Some people have used the example of water because water can be a solid, liquid or steam – but it’s all still water. These are ok, but they don’t really explain the Trinity. While every example might reflect a part of what the trinity is about – they all come up short. The truth is that there is no way to explain the trinity, so let’s not try to explain in, instead let’s begin to experience it.
There is a moment in scripture that first reveals to us the reality of the trinity and it is the baptism of Jesus. This picture was taken along banks of the Jordan River and I invite you to just reflect on it as you hear the first story that reveals to us the Trinity – Matthew 3:13, 16-17.
The trinity is experienced here because we have God the Father speaking from heaven, God the Son, Jesus, coming up out of the water and God the Holy Spirit coming down in the shape and form of a dove. God is seen, heard and somehow experienced in three unique ways, but it is all still God. It was this story that got me thinking we need to stop trying to explain the trinity and open ourselves to experiencing it.
During our afternoon along the Jordan River I went off by myself to walk. What I loved about this place was that it was quiet and still. I could hear the water flowing, smell the dirt and trees and see the sun streaming through clouds and branches. It was one of the places where I could stop by myself and experience the presence of God.
I thought about Jesus baptism and how he might have seen God his father in the creation around him before he ever heard his voice and then how Jesus may have felt the power of God the Spirit even before the dove landed on his shoulder. It was in this moment of Jesus baptism that the fullness of the Trinity was first experienced. We can’t explain it, but are we willing to receive it and experience it. Walking along the river I was able to experience it. God the father – seen in the beauty of this creation. God the Son who may have walked in these very woods seeing, smelling and hearing what I did. God the spirit literally seen streaming though the sky and landing on my shoulder. I was experiencing the Trinity, but we don’t have to go to Israel to experience the Trinity, God makes himself known to us in these ways daily if we will open our eyes and hearts.
To experience God the Father all we need to do is look at the beauty, wonder and power of creation. It is God who gave birth to our world. It is God who breathed life into us and from the very beginning and claimed us as his own. Look at Genesis 1:26-27.
It is good on this Father’s Day to remember that we all have a father in heaven who created us in his image. No matter who our father is in this world, we have a perfect heavenly father who created us in his image and loves us unconditionally. As we look at ourselves and our lives today we may question all this because what we see and experience is brokenness, weakness and pain but God doesn’t see that when he looks at us. God sees who we truly are and who he created us to be. I have a high school friend who plays violin and at one point was in the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, which I always thought that if you wanted to be in an orchestra – that would be the one to be in. Anyway, when Nancy was a freshman in High School she played her violin in worship one Sunday and let’s just say – it didn’t go well and she was crushed. We were all trying to encourage her when a senior from our youth group came over and said, Nancy – God hear that perfectly because that’s just how God hears us and sees us – perfectly.
What a profound statement – God sees us perfectly which is true because he is looking at us through Christ who has taken away our sin. When God looks at us what he sees are sons and daughter created in his image because he is our divine and loving father in heaven. Can we open ourselves up to experiencing God as our father? Not just as the awesome force that created this world but as the loving parent who welcomes us into his presence every time we turn to him.
In Isaiah 43:1 God says, I have called you by name and you are mine. We can experienced this sense of belonging and love when we open ourselves up to God the Father and maybe today is the day for us to do that - Father’s Day. No matter what kind of father we may have experienced in this world, we all have a loving father who created us in love and welcomes us into his presence with grace, power and dignity. God our father is THE Father, the perfect Father who loves us unconditionally and eternally. We can experience the love of this father today if we will open our hearts and lives to him.
We can also experience God the Son if we will build a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our relationship with Jesus can grow as we learn about him through the Scriptures, but we also have the opportunity to connect with Jesus as we open ourselves up to him. For me, it is the connection with God as the Son – a relationship with Jesus – that is the easiest to experience because I can picture myself walking and talking with Jesus. When I hear the words of Jesus it’s as if he is talking to me. When Jesus says, Come, follow him – it is an invitation to me. When Jesus says, – Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. These are words of forgiveness and new life to me. When Jesus says, I will never leave you nor forsake you, it is a promise he made with me.
Maybe it is because Jesus was a human being that people could see and touch and hear and love that it seems easier for me to have a relationship with God through the Son Jesus Christ, I don’t know, what I do know it that we can experience God through a relationship with Jesus in very dynamic and personal ways that can change us if we will open our hearts to him. If Jesus is to be our Savior and Lord then we need be able to hear his voice, experience his grace and love and feel his hand guiding us in life.
And then there is the God the Holy Spirit. There is no way to talk about how we can experience the Holy Spirit because this is perhaps the most personal and intimate experience we have of God because this is truly God in us. This is God changing us from the inside out. It is the Holy Spirit that gives wisdom and courage; it is the Holy Spirit that fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control when we thought none of those things were possible. Whatever gift we need today – God can give it through his Holy Spirit. We can experience any of these things in our lives because God comes to dwell within us and fills us with this fruit.
The spirit of God also brings gifts which shape our lives. It is by God’s power that we are able to teach, lead, pray, offer hope and healing to others or develop faith in them and ourselves. It is only God’s spirit and power that enables us to offer wisdom and give of ourselves in ways that make a difference. We don’t serve God or other people out of our own strength; whenever we serve we are just drawing upon the gifts God gives us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, God, is the One who shapes us – at times without our even knowing it. Today the spirit of God is at work in us and if we will work with God’s spirit, if we will acknowledge His presence and yield our lives to Him, the life transformation and healing and hope God offers will happen more quickly.
So today I invite you to experiencing the Trinity? God the Father is calling us by name and telling us that we have value and worth as his sons and daughters. God the Son, Jesus our Lord and Savior, forgives our sin and walks with us into a new life and God the Holy Spirit is here to give us power and courage to embrace the new life and learn how to live it to the fullest. I can not explain to you the Trinity but I invite you to experience it and through this experience find all that you need for life and faith and your future.
Experiencing the Trinity
1. Experience God the Father
• Read the story of Creation in Genesis 1 and 2
• Take time to experience the beauty and power of God’s creation in a sunrise and sunset.
• Consider the stars and planets at night.
• Listen for the power of God in a thunderstorm.
• Look for the intricate beauty of God in a flower, child or even the detail of your own hands.
• Consider how Jesus talked about God as Father
Matthew 6:5-14, 25-34; 7:9-12; 18:10-14
John 1:18; 14:1-7
2. Experience God the Son – Jesus
• Imagine Jesus walking with you during the day.
• Open yourself up to His presence, power and voice.
• As Savior, ask Jesus to forgive your sin and set you free.
• As Lord, ask Jesus to give direction and power to your life.
3. Experience God the Spirit
• Read about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and how it is produced in us: Galatians 5:22; John 15:1-8.
• Read about the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the church: Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to enter your heart and life.
• Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in daily decisions.