1/25/14 Julio about 30
Even a grocery store can be a good place to talk theology. A young father named Julio, shopping with his daughter, responded to my outreach questions about eternity by saying (en Espanol) “Well, I believe in God, so I believe I’ll be in heaven.” As our conversation progressed he had several theological questions and among them he wondered how Jesus could also be God along with the Father. “I believe in only one God” he said, “so I think Jesus was just God’s representative.” Time for me to do a little explaining about the Holy Trinity. “You’ve heard of the Trinity, right – Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo?” Julio had grown up in a Catholic family and knew about it but couldn’t comprehend or accept the concept of One God in three Persons. Not that anyone can completely, but there are analogies that help, such as St. Patrick’s use of the three-leaf clover - one plant with three connected leafs - to represent God, or the idea of water taking three forms – ice, liquid, gas – but since they can’t all happen at the same time some have suggested the sun, sunlight, and the heat of the sun as a better way to represent the Trinity. Telling how we can be one person with different roles – father, son, husband, brother – might help, but doesn’t explain how they could be in separate places at the same time.
Historically, the “Shield of the Trinity” is a very helpful visual symbol that shows how the Father, Son, and Spirit are each God but the Father is not the Son is not the Spirit, etc. Lately, I’ve been focusing on God’s perfect unity, saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have different roles and take different forms, but there is absolutely perfect trust, love, and unity among them. They have and will always exist in perfect harmony as to their purposes. They are, in essence, perfectly One. This is what Jesus meant when he said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) It might be a way of getting away from earthly analogies with their limited value and a better way to understand who God is and just what He has done on the cross. He didn’t just sacrifice a created being of limited value like a sheep or a goat. He didn’t just sacrifice a messenger or a representative. He gave Himself in the form of the Son - Creator, dying for His creation - and to fulfill His own perfect love and justice, a perfect and infinitely worthy sacrifice. For what it’s worth, this made sense to Julio there in the grocery store, so I thought I’d share it here too.