Posted on February 10, 2016
Posted on February 10, 2016
In part 1, which you can read here, I wrote about the significance of Jesus becoming the image of the invisible God (a phrase from Colossians), and the significance of the idea of imaging God, which began in the garden with Adam and Eve.
..As Paul remarks so famously in Romans, Jesus becomes a kind of second Adam, a second humanity, a reclaiming of the ancient vocation of humans to bear the image of God faithfully.
In that sense, God begins redemption not just through the work of the cross, but actually in the incarnation. The uniting of the divine and the human is the coming together that God has longed for since our Edenic origins. Often in our desire to exalt Jesus we emphasise his divinity as the Christ. But in exalting his divinity we risk eclipsing his humanity and the remarkable ability and desire of God to reveal his glory in the form of humanity.
Often our accounts of sin can quickly dichotomise. We wrongly merge together the biblical word ‘flesh’ and the word ‘body’. This can lead us to want to somehow escape the visible body for some sense of unseen or spiritual being. This is a mistaken reading I addressed in a previous post here.
But Jesus’ incarnation shows us that a God-shaped life is a life in a body, even in Jesus’ ascension he returns to the right hand of the Father. He is forever incarnated in his new-creation body which is renewed but still bears enough continuity to his previous body to be recognised by his friends.
As the fully God, fully human Jesus returns to the Father in his ascension, he promises the coming of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Jesus, exactly because Holy Spirit enables us to be united with the risen and ascended humanity of Jesus.
This is the meaning of the phrased used again and again in Paul’s writing, “In Christ”, which pauline scholar, Gordon Fee, calls the tag line, or unifying theme throughout his letters. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, Paul calls Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Adoption. A phrase which captures the way in which Holy Spirit re-unites our belonging to the Father in family. In all these various names for Holy Spirit we can see that the Spirit’s role in this age has been to unite God’s people into fellowship with the Father by including us, or seating us, in and with the Son.
These appearances of the three persons of God were later in the church’s history called trinity. It is the affirmation of the church through the ages as they read the scriptures that the Christian God is one. In that way we bear similarities to the confession of judaism and islam.
But where Christians depart from this monotheistic confession is to claim that while God is one, God is one in three persons. Do the math 1 does not equal 3. This claim is purposefully non-logical, it is the mystery at the centre of christian faith. The trinity is a truth revealed by the very persons of God. A relational God who’s being is not established by a clean doctrinal formulation but by God’s personal revelation of Himself.
Don’t worry if that last paragraph made your head spin, just know this, God is 3 in 1 and there is not a way to know that in abstract only by knowing God relationally.
Part of the reason God being 3 persons is a remarkable claim is because it asserts that at the centre of the universe is not matter, energy or divine will but a relationship of love. That is why we can say, with John’s account of the gospel that “God is Love”.
Consider that, that the very foundation of the universe is relational. That is why anything that constitutes true knowledge in this world is inherently relational 1.
Stay Tuned for Part 3, coming soon.
If you want to receive articles like this once a week to your email sign up here