Trinity Of Community
September 13, 2002
We were never meant to live alone.
From the beginning, deeply connected relationships have been woven into our DNA. The creation story of humanity is remarkably simple. All we know of our origin is that we sprouted from the life-giving breath of God, a clump of dusty clay formed into a human sculpture of bone, sinew and emotion. As that creation moment unfolds, we are told painfully little about what kind of beings we were to become. How would we interact? What would we do? How would our story evolve? Who were we? We are told almost nothing. And yet we are told everything.
We are told we are made in the image of God.
Theological battles have long raged over the precise implications of what it means to be made in God’s image; yet most of these are formed within the circles of systematic theology where the “image bearer” question is developed from the progressing biblical record. This is a helpful pursuit, but sometimes in our attempts to unwrap the varied possibilities of being God’s image bearers, we miss the obvious.
In the early moments of Genesis, we know little about God. His telling of His story has just begun. We know He is creative. We know He is powerful. We know He is a lover of beauty. But most of these revolve around what He does and what He prefers. To delve into what it could mean to be made “like him,” we need to ask, “What do we know about who He is?”
One thing we do know. It is laced through the opening chapter of Genesis, insisting we not miss it. God is a relational God, deeply connected, interwoven and interdependent, thriving in the context of otherness, committed to the community of Himself.
We find God and Spirit, moving together over the expanse of the earth before the creation story unraveled. We find God as Elohim (the plural Hebrew name for God) acting in the work of creation. We meet God conversing within the trinity, decreeing that humankind would be made “in our image.”
He is three; yet He is one. God’s very essence is community. He lives and breathes an existence of connection. Contrary to pop theology, God did not bring humanity into the world because He was bored, needing some new form of cosmic entertainment. God did not need a relationship with humanity. God lived in perfected relationship: Himself. God is the very definition of living in deep connection.
And we are made in His image.
Separation was not God’s design. Loneliness that shrinks in the corners of your soul was not His hope for you. We were created to live connected lives, community that sees past the shallowness of another’s façade and into the deep caverns of their guarded heart.
So, you aren’t crazy. Your loneliness isn’t something you just need to “get over.” The dull ache you feel when you walk away from a conversation, knowing you were “missed,” isn’t a sign of your over-active co-dependence. The sorrow you are unable to escape is the residue left from bearing the weight of living in a fallen world where sin has broken the deep soul-connections we were created to have.
But there is hope. You are still an image bearer, and there is a disheveled band called the church filled with fellow image bearers. This is your spiritual community. This is where the triune God seeks to redeem the brokenness we have invited into the world. This is God’s created place, His new order, where we can taste a little bit of heaven … until the time when all is restored.
But it will not be easy. You must rise up. You must engage another. You must open your wounds and your hopes. You must take the brave and daring step. You must live as an image bearer of the trinity.
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