All my life I’ve been taught the doctrine of the Trinity, and I’ve heard many teachers and preachers attempt to explain how it works, but there’s a problem. I still don’t get it. The other day I was leading a meditation team with some coworkers, and I decided that we should meditate on John 1:1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (ESV)
When I say meditate, I mean writing a verse from the Bible on a sheet of paper, sitting in the place of prayer (for me, it’s the Prayer Room), talking to God about that verse, and writing down whatever comes to mind, checking it against the Bible later. Anyway, when we came back together after half an hour to discuss what we felt God had told us about that verse, we found that we all had boggled minds. My thoughts were something like this:
“In the beginning was the Word…”
It seems that John is reaching back to Genesis 1, making his Jewish readers a little curious as to where he’s going. Yes, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth by speaking them into existence. Both Jews and believers in Jesus agree on that.
“…and the Word was with God…”
This is probably where most of his readers start arguing. Is he saying that the Word is separate from God? Is He implying that God is not one being?
“…and the Word was God.”
Wait a minute, didn’t you just say it was separate? John, you aren’t making any sense! How can something be with God and be God simultaneously? By now, at least some of his Jewish readers have figured out exactly where he’s going. But not all. In my amateur opinion, many would continue reading, trying to figure out what the old apostle is talking about. Throughout the Gospel, they would run into John pointing to Christ’s deity again and again, starting later in John 1.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…John bore witness about him…”Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (ESV)
In my mind, John is an old man, having experienced a full life with Jesus; Jesus in the flesh, Jesus transfigured, Jesus after resurrection, and Jesus ascended. John could’ve written a lengthy introduction explaining the deity of Jesus and how it all works, but he chose instead to make it a simple and concise as he could. It’s like he knew that his readers would be intrigued and a maybe a little offended, but he chose to keep it that way, letting the life of Christ explain it all.
So I guess where all this is going is something like this. The life of Christ does much to explain the Trinity. Somehow. I’ve really just realized this in the midst of writing this, so I don’t know how it all works. What I do know is this: God is God, Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God, but they are all separate as well. I’ve heard it explained like this, water can be in different forms: ice, steam, and liquid; likewise, God is a being, human, and spirit. But I don’t know how much I like that analogy. In fact, I think the doctrine of the Trinity is the greatest paradox, so I’m pretty certain that any analogy will fall short. And I’m pretty certain I’ll be wondering how it all works for billions upon billions of years in the afterlife. This is only the beginning.