Reflections on Trinity in Everyday Life – Trinity Sunday
“I wonder if he’ll accept my friend request,” I said to myself after clicking on that wonderful add-as-friend button on Facebook. I’d only met him once, and even though we had almost 50 friends in common, I wondered if he would remember me and want to be my friend. Seriously, when you have thousands of friends on Facebook – what’s one more? Then my mind started envisioning that he was just too busy to respond to friend requests and certainly too busy to respond to my personal message that I sent with my friend request – I don’t request to be friends with famous people unless I have met them and had a conversation with them.
Whenever I meet new people or request new friends on Facebook, for some reason I expect rejection. Even though I may be able to come up with rational and logical reasons why I might be accepted, emotionally I default to the expectation of rejection. So, I asked myself why? I did not ask this in isolation – though conversations between me, myself and I can be very engaging – I invited the holy Trinity to join me in this quest of self-discovery. This has become a spiritual discipline for me – it’s my personal variation of Healing of Memories, Theophostic Prayer, Victory over the Darkness, and Inner Healing. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and one place I need to know the truth is in my inner being. As David declared, You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. (Psalm 51:6) I am confident it was the Holy Spirit that opened my eyes to see this pattern of expecting rejection. So, I set aside some time to process in prayer.
During my focused prayer time, I asked the Holy Spirit to remind me of other times I have feared or experienced rejection. It didn’t take long for me to get to some root emotional memories – my junior high and high school years were fraught with rejection, and what seven year old hasn’t felt some sort of rejection when their parents divorced? As I faced the painful memories, I realized my default mode of expecting rejection was based on a greater fear of being unlovable. I wept and the Holy Spirit comforted me. In that place of brokenness I confessed my fears, and confronted the darkness in my heart – the hatred and anger towards the people who had rejected me and hurt me over the years. As I confessed my sin, I asked Jesus to help me get rid of the hatred and anger in my heart – for I am confident that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from sin (1 John 1:5-10). This cleansing from sin is not just so that I will go to heaven when I die, but so that I will be able to live in loving relationship with God and others. “The real issue in atonement is a broken family relationship”1 and there is reconciling power not only in the blood shed on the cross, but also in the resurrection. We are united with Christ so that we can walk in newness of life in loving relationship with God and others here and now – not just in some by and by. (Romans 5-8)
Whenever I confront fear, I know the greatest power to overcome that fear is God’s love. (1 John 4:8) The cleansing blood of Jesus reminds me of God’s love, and as I opened the eyes my heart to see how God thought of me, I pictured myself sitting in his lap – just like I used to do with my earthly father. This picture of the Father’s love for me was affirmed recently through a word from a sister who was praying for me one Sunday. She saw God the Father holding me on his lap with his loving arms around me, singing over me, “Do not fear for I am with you, be not anxious for I am your God, I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will hold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Whom shall I fear when I am accepted in the beloved heart of God?
This image reminds me that I am God’s child – my Heavenly Father will never leave me or reject me for I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. (John 1:12, Ephesians 1:3-8) Another time, when I was worshiping in song,, I closed my eyes and imagined Jesus running toward me – like in those cheesy love story scenes where two lovers are running across some distance and when they embrace they dance around in sweet abandon. That image reminded me that Jesus is the lover of my soul and my Maker is as a husband to me. (Isaiah 54:5) God often reveals himself to me in personal ways through my imagination. “God is closer and more intimate to us than we allow ourselves to believe. … It is the essence of God that he go out from himself and overflow for the sake of others.”2 This experience of Trinity – the God in three persons acting in concert – is just the kind healing balm I continue to need when tempted to fear rejection.
The purpose of the Trinity interacting with me in such a personal way is not just for my benefit, but for the sake of others and for the sake of revealing himself to the world. Jesus said they will know we are his disciples by our love for one another. (John 13:34-35) I find it very difficult to love others when I am living in fear and harboring hatred in my heart. “God is faithful Father, serving Son and enlivening Spirit. Himself existing in community, God wants to establish community among us. Church and family can be expressions of God’s nature, of his love of open friendships, caring relationships and inclusive communities.”3 When we live in loving and accepting community with one another, we are reflecting the divine nature to the world around us. “Because God is a plurality in unity, the ideal for humankind does not focus on solitary persons, but on persons-in-community. God intends that we reflect the divine nature in our lives. This is only possible as we move out of our isolation and into godly relationships with others. Consequently, true Christian living is life-in-relationship or life in community.”4
When I remain in fear of rejection and fear that I am unlovable, I tend to isolate myself and disengage from community, fearing my heart can’t take one more rejection. But God is greater than my heart, and even though my heart may fail, I will choose to trust in God as the strength of my life to face and overcome my fears. (Psalm 73) I am thankful for my many friends, not just on Facebook and other online communities, but my neighbors and my friends at church who help me experience the fullness of God’s love. Together, I hope we can show the world what we mean when we say, God is love. (1 John 4)
1 Larry R.Shelton, Cross & Covenant: Interpreting Atonement for 21st Century Mission (Paternoster, 2006), 32. 2 Clark H Pinnock, Flame of Love: A Theology of the Spirit (Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1996), 44. 3 Clark H. Pinnock, Robert C Brow, Unbounded Love, (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock,1994), 47. 4 Stanley J Grenz, Created For Community, (Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2004) 51.