Once we did a survey in our church and one of the questions was: “Do you often feel lonely and unnoticed?” A full 75% of the respondents said no, which made me glad for those who had connected with other people. But my heart went out to the 25% who said yes. Loneliness is an awful place to live. I have only had passing experiences of loneliness in my life, but each time I have, usually when far from home and detached from the people and ordinary fixtures of my life, I have thought, “May I never be unsympathetic or glib about those who struggle in the darkened corners of aloneness. I hope I have eyes to notice the lonely person.”
God’s great sweeping plan of salvation, his way of pulling us out of the pit of separation and self-entrapment and isolation, includes bringing us into a new community. The blood of Jesus makes Christians blood brothers and sisters. It is the way of reconciliation and of humble leveling. It means finding a new kind of family.
So should it surprise any of us that God himself is a kind of divine communion? That’s what we mean when we speak of God as the Trinity, or in biblical terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was not our idea; it is the way God has shown himself. It is true that the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, but that does not mean that the truth of the Trinity is not there. It was later Christians who tried to think of a single word that summarized this great revelation of the divine Father, eternal Son, and Holy Spirit, and so they used trinitas, “Trinity,” the God who is one and three at the same time.
The first hint came when early in Genesis God said, “Let us make man in our image.” This was not a chorus of gods speaking like the Greek gods whom people envisioned living on Mt. Olympus in a god-sized melodrama, for the rest of the Old Testament speaks radically of the oneness of God.
Go down any street in Jerusalem, a thousand years ago or today, and you will find inscribed on Jewish doorposts the heart of the faith of children of Abraham, the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). One God, not competing gods. One divine nature, not a clash of supernatural temperaments. One creator-over-all, not a bevy of regional lords with regional interests and personal idiosyncrasies.
It is the oneness of God that curtails our inclination to keep making new gods. It is the single voice, the sole object of devotion, the unambiguous source of revelation, the headwaters of spiritual life. God’s oneness is his strength, his purity, and his simplicity. His oneness is our assurance that there is not a competing Dark Lord who pulls toward evil as hard as God pulls toward good, and we wait breathlessly, hoping that the good will win out in the end.
“Have a blessed day, I am.”
A. T. S .