• Steven Marsh

The Unconditional Love of the Triune God Beckons Us To Serve– Unconditional Love. The Antidote

Today is Trinity Sunday. In the Church Year, this is the day when Christians focus on the significance of the Trinity for daily living. All three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are involved in our lives. The doctrine of the Trinity is at the heart of Christian life and faith.

An old tale speaks of a man who died and faced the angel Gabriel at heaven’s gates. The angel said, “Here’s how this works. You need a hundred points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you have done, and I will give a certain number of points for each of them. The more good there is in the work that you cite, the more points you will get for it. When you get to a hundred points, you get in.” “Okay,” the man said, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart.” Gabriel replied, “That’s wonderful. That’s worth three points.” “Three points?” said the man incredulously. “Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my money and service.” “Terrific!” said Gabriel, “that’s certainly worth a point.” “One point?” said the man with his eyes beginning to show a bit of panic. “Well, how about this: I opened a shelter for the homeless in my city, and fed needy people by the hundreds during holidays.” “Fantastic, that’s good for two more points,” said the angel. “TWO POINTS!” cried the man in desperation. “At this rate the only way I will get to heaven is by the grace of God.” “Come on in,” said Gabriel.[1]

Grace is the antidote to a life of rules, unmet expectations and shame. Just like the man in the fictional story who said, “At this rate the only way I will get to heaven is by the grace of God,” our works, efforts and accumulated points will never be enough. It’s God’s unmerited favor or unconditional love for us that makes us accepted. The triune God chooses, intends and promises our acceptance.[2]

And so the love unleashed at Pentecost matters. The Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of life took up residence within every person then and subsequent generations. God loves the world. On Trinity Sunday we exclaim that the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is for us, not against us. John Stott writes, “…mission arises primarily out of the nature not of the church but of God himself. The living God of the Bible is the sending God…What does the Bible say? How does this connect with what we know from the biblical revelation about the character, purpose and actions of God, especially as revealed in Christ.?[3]The Bible tells us the story of Wisdom and how it beckons us to engage life in God’s wondrous world.

Well, the Bible says this in our texts. Proverbs 8 reminds us that our wisdom is from God. How? Wisdom is with God daily. Wisdom communicates with God. Wisdom collaborates with God. And Wisdom rejoices with God.[4]John 16 articulates the relational dynamic within the Godhead and the Godhead with us benefits us as we navigate the highs and lows of everyday life. And, Romans 5 shows us how this ever fluid and interactive relationship helps us get unstuck from pinning hope to the imaginable and utilizing hope to unpack the unimaginable. What is the unimaginable? The actual fulfillment of God’s intentions and promises. The Lord’s Supper is “a feast of remembrance, and of communion and of hope. The first two have the tendency to predominate in our imagination of the Supper. How might that change if we accented the dimension of hope?”[5]

The Triune God is an active agent in human and world affairs. Serving others moves us from imagining transformation to experiencing it. The unconditional love of the Triune God is truly the antidote to imagining the gospel. Then we see the gospel come to reality.

[1]As found on preachingtoday.com. Bryan Chapell, Holiness By Grace (Crossway Books, 2001), 22-23; used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, http://www.crosswaybooks.org

[2]Adapted from George R. Hunsberger in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3(Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019), 15.

[3]John Stott in John Stott and Christopher J. H. Wright, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 35.

[4]Adapted from Leanne Van Dyk in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3, 5-6.

[5]George R. Hunsberger in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 3, 12.

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