Our one God is three persons. He has existed as one divine being in three persons for eternity past—mutually submitting to, honoring, and welcoming his other “selves” in all matters, remaining in deep friendship and satisfaction within his own communal being, and having the best eternal conversation with himself.
But still, from his fullness, he chose to create the physical universe, including us. And even when we rebelled against this relational God, choosing a lie over his faithful, forever friendship, he did not recoil. Rather his relational perfection overflowed to us. In our finite and sinful state, we had nothing to offer him; there was no way for us to begin to understand him or relate to him at the depth of his triune-self. But, he remembered that we were dust. He approached us in love and listened to our shallow, simple, backwards thoughts and gave us his deep, complex, redeeming truth.
God’s relationship with - or, within - himself is an image of the hope of the church. Jesus prays in John 17:20 that all of those who will believe in him “may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” The oneness of all believers for all time in Jesus Christ is an opportunity for belief for the world.
The twist to all of this is that the source of the church’s oneness was a bloody cross when the threefold God turned away from his own self. This was an extreme act of self-sacrifice that we’ll never truly understand - when God the Father and God the Spirit abandoned God the Son to death on a cross. In this act, Jesus became completely removed from his full self, to suffer relational abandonment through death. But, nothing could keep God from the one he loves. God’s Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and made him victor over it, seating him at his right hand, and giving him the name that is above all other names. And again, through this death, resurrection, and exaltation he made a way for fallen people like us to be brought back into friendship with him forever.
The good news of the Trinity is that God did not need a relationship with us (he already had that within himself!), but he chose it anyway, and gave his life to get it back when we tore away from him. So, our salvation is not: “God needs us for something.” But instead, “God wants to share himself with us.” What a relief! What good news!
ALETHA WACHTER / GUEST CONTRIBUTOR