Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, June 13, 2014

Trinity Sunday: Believe in God... or....Believe God

(Read John Wesley's Sermon on the Trinity here)
(Read the Prayer for Trinity Sunday here)
(Read a Fathers'Day prayer here)

One of the biggest controversies that the early Church faced was over coming to terms with who God is, the God who had revealed Himself in the Scriptures we call the Old Testament.  They had to reconcile the Biblical truth that, “The Lord your God, the Lord is One” (Deut 6:4) with the truth they had come to experience in the presence of Christ who had seemed to them to be God in their midst, especially after His resurrection.  And then, after Pentecost, they had to try and explain the Holy Spirit, who was poured out on them and now seemed to be the amazing and quite unbelievable, presence of God within them!
“Behold, Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One”......but He seems to be in Heaven, and Jesus has said we can call Him Father,...... and He seems also to have been on earth in Jesus who called Him Father,..... and He seems to be in us when we are born again and baptised in the Spirit, as Jesus said we must be if we want to see and be a part of the Kingdom which is in our midst (John 3.)

It really was (and is) a mystery, but by 55 AD when Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians, one can see they are coming to terms with what would only later be called the Triune God, the God who is Trinity, the God who is One, but Three......Three, but One......mystery.  

Paul ends his letter with what has become the best known benediction among Christians, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Much later the Church would put into words this belief in the form of a credo, a creed, which means: “I believe.” The Nicene was written in 325 AD and puts into words the mysterious description of God as Trinity, as God who is Father, God who is Son and God who is Holy Spirit.

Our God is a “plural”, a “we”, an “us”......mystery.  Our God has said that He is not like us, that His ways are not our ways but even so He has chosen to reveal as much of Himself (themselves) to us as we can bear to see and take in ...... and this is enough for us to be able to decide whether we want to have anything to do with Him/Them. 

That our God is a we/us should come as no surprise to us because right back in the very first verses of our Scriptures (Genesis 1:26)

            “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.

Do you see that: God said......Let us.

So here’s the question we must ask......what does it mean to be created in the image of, in the likeness of God who is Trinity?

This is key to our understanding of everything we’ve been looking at since Easter.  Good Friday marked the drawing into one place, the focusing, of all evil into one place and onto one person, God the Son, Jesus the Christ.  That one “person” then conquered all evil and with His resurrection on Sunday, the first day of the week, inaugurated a new world, a new creation, a new kingdom, a new order, which has many manifestations, just one of them being that evil has never again had the last word, evil is a conquered enemy (which of course is a very dangerous enemy to have).  And then with the giving of His Holy Spirit, God has created a new people, the Church, whose primary calling is to accept God’s invitation to be a part of inaugurating this new world (while we live in the old), this new creation, while we live in the old creation, inaugurating this new kingdom where we have one King and His Name is Jesus, even as we live under other kings/rulers/presidents with other names, inaugurating this new order, which is now God’s order, God’s pattern, God’s way even as we live under the order, pattern, ways of the old world.

For all this we need to be born again, and part of that process is ......  becoming ...... like ...... them, getting new ears, new eyes.....a new heart...all of these like...God's.

“Let us make humans in our likeness” ...... let us recreate humans, who have had our image/likeness shattered in them because of sin, let us recreate them in our image, let us restore in them, our image.  We have dealt with sin, once and for all on the cross, so now we can restore in them, our image ...... if they let us ...... if they want to be like us in the world where they live, and Jesus showed them what that means, ...... if they want that, we will do it in them.  And we can do that because we have sent and will continue sending our Holy Spirit, who is the holy making Spirit in them, if they ask for our Spirit.

I’m going to lift from our reading from Genesis a few things regarding what it means to be created, re-created in God’s image......what it means to be like them, like in Alberton in 2014.

There is much, much more to this subject (books are written on this subject) but I am going to look at the Old Testament reading on the 7 days of Creation, which is where God first reveals Himself to us, and lift 7 things it might mean for us to be “like them" as we go about our business in each of the 7 day cycles that we might have left.

  1. The first chapter of Genesis reveals to us that God is creative – He seeks to build, He seeks to make new, and He always seeks to make better.  We, if we are to be like God, should be creative.....always looking to make new, to make better.  Sometimes, making new means breaking down (the rest of Scripture will show us that our God sometimes breaks down, His people, His Temple...... but always because He has something better in mind.)  In these last few weeks, we have seen bulldozers breaking down people’s homes in our country, but with nothing better in the offing.  That is not creative.  God sometimes brought a bulldozer to His people, their Temple and sometimes to His Church – but always because something better was in the offing.  We are called to be, and re-created to be, creative.
  2. God is especially creative through His words – His words left Creation in place.  Our words, our tongues, ought to be creative and to leave behind creation or the possibility of creation, through the wisdom, knowledge and love imparted by our words.
  3. God creates from nothing and the nothingness from which He creates is in some translations called “the chaos” in verse 2 of Genesis 1.  This is very encouraging in a broken, chaotic world, in a world where many often feel they have “nothing” left.  The person re-created in God’s image, the person who desperately longs to become more like God, especially as revealed in Jesus, realises that chaos and nothingness are the very means, the building blocks,      of the possibility of something good and something new.  God’s Spirit hovers over these things in people’s lives, often waiting for God’s people to proclaim a creative word, like God would, over the mess and chaos of people's situations.
  4. Our God has a rhythm that is good......and I’d love to spend a whole sermon on this but can’t.  God’s heart seems to beat in a certain way, and when ours beats to the same rhythm, I give personal testimony to the fact that our lives change for the better.  After each day of creation, we hear these words: “And there was evening, and there was morning, and that was the first (second, third......) day.”  In God’s rhythm, a new day the evening, at sunset.  In other words, the day starts  Now you may say that this is just playing with words......but they are God’s words, and therefore I think we ought to listen to them and let our minds be conformed to them... Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Paul in Romans12)  The Romans said the new day began at midnight and the Greeks said the new day began at sunrise.  God’s people have always said: The new day begins at sunset.  I’d love to go into this more but will leave it here: to be made in the likeness of God means to also think as God does and move to the same rhythm as God does.
  5. We see in the Creation story, that God trusts those who are made in His image.  He makes all of creation and says: Will you take care of it for me?  Trust is His default.  We live in a world where distrust is the default – people have to prove themselves trustworthy in order to earn our trust – can you see how that is the exact opposite of the God in whose image we are created, and hopefully are busy being re-created.  And the Bible shows in the next chapter that God’s trust was totally misplaced......but here’s the mystery and the grace and the love......He refuses to not trust those who have proven themselves untrustworthy.  That takes tremendous faith on our part but it is often the only way we can speak a creative word into the life of someone the world has discarded.
  6. He blesses......and we should too.  Last week, we looked at, “We are blessed in order to be a blessing” ...... so no more on that this morning.
  7. He rests, and people becoming like Him, should rest as well.  As I read the Creation story, it seems to me that the first thing that humans created in God’s image rest.  Sunset comes on Day 6, just after God created humans in our image.... and it is bedtime.  Then they wake up the next day, the 7th day, and probably say, all excitedly, “Wow......what now......what are we to do on this first morning......” and God says: ...... “it’s a day for you to rest!”

So......our God is an us/we who created humans in His/Their likeness.  We’ve looked at 7 things that might mean for us today. Let's be like Him, as He has revealed Himself to us in Christ and empowered by His Spirit.

I close with this thought: In our creeds, we say that we believe in God, in Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.  That is good and well, but only a beginning.  From believing in God, we must move to believing God because it is believing God, Jesus, Holy Spirit that has a transforming affect on us, because then we let Him change us because we believe His way is best for us.

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