Welcomed Into the Circle

Welcomed Into the Circle

Welcomed Into the Circle.

“The prime purpose of the incarnation is to lift us up into a life of communion, of participation in the very triune life of God.”  (James Torrance, Worship, Communion and the Triune God of Grace).

“Truly the fellowship that we have is with the Father and the Son.” (1 John 1:3).

Before the divine invention of time, before the foundation of the world, the triune God existed in a profoundly intimate community of three Persons. Because God is love, they created the world so they  could share that intimacy with the human race. They did not hoard their eternal love for each other, but instead they included humanity in their relationship. In creation, God shared His life with humanity, providing a truly life-giving relationship with Him. The Spirit of love binding the Father and the Son has proven to be the energy source of all the love in the world. The trinitarian relationship became the engine of the universe. Without the virtues within the life of the Trinity, there would be no virtues in the world, no truth, goodness or beauty. The passionate interaction within the Godhead is the spark of communion that ignites the presence of intimacy in the world. The original source of everything right in the world lies within the everlasting togetherness of the Trinity. “The great dance of life shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the womb of creation.” (Baxter Kruger, The Great Dance).

“God is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, a life of communion and participation in His life. God has called you to co-share the very life of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:9).

There is a mystery to the depth of unity between the three-Personed God. Their love for each other is too deep to understand, yet close enough to experience through Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvaux once tried to describe the intimacy within the Trinity this way… “Surely if the Father kisses and the Son receives the kiss, it is appropriate to think of the Holy Spirit as the kiss.” We do know from John 14:10-11 and 17:21 that their communion is such that they are somehow inside each other. They are so closely knit that when you know the Son, you know the Father. And when you see the Son, you have seen the Father (John 14:7). Father and Son have enjoyed an intimate oneness, with the Spirit being their bond of love, since before the foundation of the world. And the triune God wants us to participate in the unity of their Family circle, the Son in us and the Father in the Son (John 17:23). Both the Son and the Father have always desired to share their home life with us (John 14:23). We are called to literally live within the Trinity, inside their relationship, being more intimate with God than with any other person (John 14:20). The Christian mystic Elizabeth of the Trinity once wrote that one of her spiritual disciplines was “burying myself, so to speak, in the depths of my soul to lose myself in the Trinity who dwells in it.” 

“We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. For truly the fellowship, the shared companionship that we have is with the Father and the Son.”  (1 John 1:3).

The Trinity’s profound love for each other has resulted in their sharing that love, their including humanity in their interaction. We have been called to participate in their life-giving intimacy, in their divine fellowship. We have been offered, through Jesus, the amazing privilege of sharing in their relationship. In Christ, we can now open our eyes to see the truth of our life inside the Trinity. Christ has succeeded in uniting the holy Trinity with fallen humanity, and the result is mankind’s inclusion in the life of the triune God. Inside the circle, we can now experience the very same love that the Father shows the Son (John 17:26). We can now confirm that the Father will love us just as much as He loves the Son (John 17:23). As Baxter Kruger says, “We don’t make Jesus a part of our world. He has made us a part of His.” We now can know our true identity, living in the circle of the Trinity, our true selves hidden within the joy and love of their intimacy.

“So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will live in close fellowship with the Son and the Father; you will live deeply in them both, sharing God’s life forever, as He has promised.”  (1 John 2:24).

James Houston once wrote that “God is infinitely relational and intimately personal.” The wonderful mystery is that it is God’s nature to be relational and personal with the human race. When we are baptized in the Name of the Trinity, we are restored into God’s own bosom, received into the triune life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Their relationship is now our relationship. Their reality is now our shared reality. We thus have a joyful place within their circle. When we are baptized in the Name of the Trinity, our eyes have been opened to our permanent destiny within their life. We thus celebrate our adoption into God’s trinitarian family.

“God has given us magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous promises you can experience partnership with the divine nature.”  (2 Peter 1:4).

Is it okay to be so familiar with God that we call Him Abba, Father? Should we be comfortable addressing the almighty and everlasting God the equivalent of “Dad” or “Papa“? The ancient liturgical line leading into the Lord’s Prayer is, “We are bold to say… Our Father.” Bold indeed. And yet in 2 Peter 1:4 we are told that we are partakers of the divine nature, participants in the life of God, partners with the Godhead. We are told that God is including us in His eternal nature. In light of that, we have permission to be familiar with God, calling Him a family name. The Greek word for “partners” in that verse is “koinonos,” which means to be a companion with, to have deep fellowship with. Those are love words, words that invite communion. The truth is that we are able to join the intimate community of the Trinity through Jesus and through what He has done to renew the fellowship between God and people. Because of Jesus, we are bold to say, Abba, Father.

“All who are guided by the Spirit of God are indeed children of God. For the mature children of God are those who are moved by the impulses of the Holy Spirit. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. You have received the Spirit of adoption, of full acceptance, enfolding you into the family of God. You received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. You will never feel orphaned, for as He rises up within us, our spirits join Him in crying out ‘Abba! Father!’  For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as He whispers into our innermost being, ‘You are God’s beloved child.'” (Romans 8:14-16).

There is a story in the Hebrew Bible that illustrates the truth of our being included in the relationship of the Trinity. This true story reads like a parable, and it is a tale of kindness and mercy and inclusion. This is the story of David and Jonathon’s covenant friendship, and Jonathon’s son Mephibosheth. Before Jonathon died in battle, he asked his bosom buddy David to keep his promise of kindness to Jonathon’s family in the future. “And may you, David, treat me with the faithful love of Yahweh, as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this same faithful love.” (1 Samuel 20:14). Jonathon did indeed die soon thereafter, along with his father King Saul, and David started assuming the throne. All descendants of a vanquished king were usually executed, because the descendants would be rivals to the throne of the new king. But David was a man after God’s own heart, and he didn’t hesitate to honor his covenant with Jonathon. David soon was looking all over the kingdom for any descendants of Jonathon to whom he could show mercy. David decided to exercise his power by looking for anyone in Jonathon’s family that could receive his kindness. David would not forget his friendship with Jonathon, and he intended to live out the faithful love of Yahweh.

Sure enough, David found a forgotten son of Jonathon, his name was Mephibosheth. This man was crippled in both feet and helpless, unable to support himself in any way, physically or financially. He was no doubt expecting the worst when King David discovered him. But David in his kindness and faithfulness restored all of Saul’s land to him, as well as Saul’s inheritance. David then hired laborers to farm his fields to provide a way of making a living. More wonderful still, David invited Mephibosheth to join him at the King’s table. David, out of sheer mercy, included him in the royal family, to be treated as a prince. “You shall eat bread at my table continually. You shall eat at my table like one of the King’s sons.” (2 Samuel 9:7,11). Jonathon’s son was asked to join the fellowship of the royal family and enjoy the king’s benefits at the palace table.

What a picture of our inclusion in the fellowship of the Trinity. Because of God’s faithful covenant, because of the Father’s promise of salvation, we are now adopted into the King’s family circle, included at the King’s table. We are now inside the palace and enjoy the royal fellowship. God has welcomed us into the joy of the Trinity’s communion table. Jesus has made room for us and offered a place at His table.

“The whole dance, or drama, or pattern of this three-Personal life is to be played out in each one of us.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity).

“Because of Jesus Christ, we can participate in the living out of trinitarian life inside human existence.” (Baxter Kruger, The Great Dance).

“What might it mean to live fully and freely in the life of the Trinity, knowing and loving God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as they know and love each other?”  (R. Thomas Ashbrook, Mansions of the Heart).

“Now, may the grace, favor and blessing of our Master Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the precious fellowship and communion we share in the Holy Spirit be yours continually. Amen! (2 Corinthians 13:14).

2 Replies to “Welcomed Into the Circle”

  1. Simply beautiful, Steve. Thank you for helping us recover this essential doctrine of the trinity!

  2. I am thankful to be in that circle and I am finding out more everyday what it means to be there.Exciting and comforting to be a part of something that out reaches our galaxies.
    Well written as always Steve.Thank you,*jane