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A Triune Love

“...until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13-15, ESV)

I originally didn’t want to write on the particular topic for this month, which is “The One Voice,” aka, the Trinity. I have an aversion to words like ‘trinity’ and ‘rapture’ that aren’t in the Bible even when the concepts are there, and I usually end up saying something uncomfortably provocative when I do talk about them. Wrapping in a neat package something the scriptures leave mysterious just rubs me the wrong way. This, of course, is ultimately a growth point for me and not something to huff and puff over—but more on that later.

So why did I change my mind? There’s a new believer here who is very much in the stage described in Ephesians 4 where he gets batted around by every wind of doctrine, and he went through a season of significantly doubting the traditional view of the trinity. If you had asked him in that season if he thought Jesus was God, you would have gotten an emphatic ‘no.’ He’s come back around now, but there are big questions I had to ask myself while he was having a wander. What exactly do you need to believe about Jesus for His work on the cross to be sufficient for you? If you stop believing those things for a time, do you lose your salvation? If you lose it, can you get it back once you sort your theology out? What theological sacred cows have been enculturated into me as a Western Evangelical that actually matter less than I think? Things like that. I won’t get into how I answered those questions, because this is supposed to be about a conversation with God, and not a theological discourse (though doctrine DOES matter).

In the end, only one question that I was asking mattered: “What are the Father, Son and Holy Spirit saying to me about this guy and how I am meant to love him with the love of Christ in the midst of his wrestling?” That simplified things rather nicely, if I’m honest. If you’re at all like me, you waste an awful lot of energy as a gospel worker because we ask the wrong questions in situations like this. We try to fix, fix, fix because we want the best for people, but our love slips into control when we drift into thinking a particular person’s struggle or doubt is bigger than the love of God for that person. Once we slow down and listen to what the One Voice is telling us to do, and once we trust that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all love that person infinitely more than we do, we can see much more clearly what our part is.

After all, the whole notion of the trinity is about love—that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all exist in a perfectly loving relationship with each other. Love, of course, requires, surrender, submission and sacrifice. While the Son and the Spirit love by submitting to the Father, the Father loves by surrendering and sacrificing rather than controlling. This is a lesson for me particularly as a spiritual father to the guy I mentioned earlier. I can share truth in love, but I can’t force him to believe anything or guilt trip him for believing something false. I need to give him his freedom. And when believers freely submit to one another, the church moves a little closer to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, even if we started out being battered by doctrinal storms.

Warmly in Christ,

Fred Swartz

For Reflection:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)

  1. What are your conversations with God like about the people you are discipling?

  2. How has being in ministry challenged your theology?

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