We often use this prayer at the end of our Sunday meetings:
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.”
The words come from the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 13:14).
I confess to having been rather confused as a child: I had an image of God the Father and God the Son sitting around heaven on the “furniture” of the Holy Spirit! It was quite a while before I realized how significant it is that the Bible tells of God’s “tri-unity”: the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit.
Let me explain this:
1) Without Jesus, God would be remote and unknowable
Notice the order: Son (“the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ”); Father (“the love of God”); and the Holy Spirit.
Imagine two fish asking whether there is any life outside of the water. The only fish to leave the ocean are attached to (my) fishing hook. They could speculate endlessly about their friend’s departure, but as none of them came back they are left in ignorance.
If all we could do is speculate what God is like, then your guess is as good as mine... But Christians believe that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth in order to tell us what God is like.
And, more, He came to make it possible for us to be “right” with God, having our sins forgiven, and welcomed into God’s family. Hence, at Sunday School, we were taught that GRACE means: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
2) The God revealed by the Father, through the Son, is a God of Love
John 3:16, the most famous verse in the Bible, tells us about God the Father and God the Son:
“God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Sometimes people misconceive this picture of God. “Poor old God, he must be lonely up there in heaven; to fill the gap he decided to make some spiritual children in the form of Christians.” But that would make God dependent upon His creation for his own happiness – and thus, he could not be thought of as being God!
The great theologian Augustine, once and for all answered that question, in part by understanding what John 3:16 says:
God is the Father - the One who Loves;
God is the Son - the Beloved;
God is the Spirit - the one who communicates the love between the two.
As John says elsewhere “God is love” (1 John 4:8). At the very heart of God is love; given, received and communicated.
3) Through the Holy Spirit unity is achieved
What of the “furniture” of the Holy Spirit? Well, no, but “Fellowship” is a much-misunderstood word too.
Fellowship means, "Participation; union; communion.”
It has a vertical dimension – peace with God through Christ;
It has a horizontal dimension – peace with one another through unity in Christ.
So, understanding God as Trinity really matters:-
Grace for your guilt, because of Jesus;
Love for your isolation, because of our Father in heaven;
Fellowship in a new family, through the Spirit, and with brothers and sisters in Christ.
You might not have thought about it this way before, but appreciating God as Trinity is at the very heart of the Christian faith!
Simon Vibert is viar of Christ Church Virginia Water. He has written various articles and books. Some of them you can find here.