November 2018

Transformed by the Trinity

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The early Christians were Jews and strict monotheists – believers in only one God. But they came to believe that God should be called both ‘one’ and ‘three’ at the same time. Their belief in the Trinity became a central belief (even though ‘Trinity’ is a Latin word not found in the Bible). What persuaded them to do this?

 

Some New Testament Foundations

 

Look at the following four New Testament passages and ask, “How do they speak of some kind of ‘threefold’ (Father, Son, Spirit) action of the living God?”

John 16:13-15 The Son speaks of his Father and the Spirit Ephesians 1:13-14 Our God-given salvation Romans 8:9-11 The Spirit does God’s work 2 Corinthians 13:13-14 One God of love, grace and fellowship

None of these passages “proves” the Trinity – but they do show how the one God works in a threefold way in our world. That’s why the idea of the Trinity became the heart of the Christian understanding of God. The belief says that God is relational in his very being. The one true God is social not solitary.

 

God as Trinity

 

We know the doctrine of the Trinity is true by experiencing and worshiping God as Father, and as Son, and as Spirit – rather than by working it out in our minds. God cannot be fully known by reason; but God can be fully loved and worshiped. The personal salvation we experience reconciles us to God the Father, through the life and death of God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit. So, our Gospel is Trinitarian, and the Trinity is the Gospel. Our eternal life comes from the Trinity, happens through the Trinity, and brings us home to the Trinity.

Our God is not an isolated ‘individual’. Our God – Father, -Son, Spirit – is, we could even say, a ‘small group’. And in the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God for salvation and mission:  moving away from isolation to fellowship and community, and lovingly longing for this for others too.

 

The Trinity as a ‘divine dance’

 

This is the suggestion of Baxter Kruger in his book The Great Dance. Kruger uses the image of a ‘divine dance’ to try to explain a key word used in the early church: perichoresis. This word means ‘interpenetration’ – the way in which the concerns of one member of the Trinity become the concerns of each. So, whatever is the ‘work’ of one is the work of each – whether it’s creation, salvation, mission, making us holy, and so on. All three work together in each of these areas and the image of the three dancing is a lovely one that preserves their individuality and their perfect harmony together. So, writes Kruger,

“The logic of the incarnation and death of Jesus lies in the determined passion of the Trinity to share their life, their glory, their great dance with us – and not just with us, but with the whole creation. The dance of the Triune life is no longer just a divine dance. It is now and forever a divine-human dance.”

 

It’s all about ‘interdependence’ and partnership

 

Our God is a relational God and he intends that we reflect his relational nature in our lives. This can only happen if we move out of our isolation and into relationship with God and others. Community is not simply one aspect of human life; community is found within the divine essence of the living God. There is a relational heart to our understanding of God. Remind one another of John 3:16. From that “giving” of the Father and Son eventually comes the outpouring of the Spirit – look again at John 16:13-15. By growing the fruit of this Spirit in our lives (look at Galatians 5:22-23a, 25) we live out the message that Jesus, risen from the dead, is indeed Lord.

The self-giving life and serving of the Trinity becomes the model for the self-giving life and serving of God’s people.

 

The transforming difference that belief in God as Trinity makes

 

The argument runs like this: since we are made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), God is the model and standard for humanity. The essential inner nature of God shows how we should live both as individual Christians and as the Christian community. The model does not focus on us as solitary individuals, but on ‘persons-in-community’. Nor does this life destroy our individuality. This is not independence, and it’s not dependence. It is interdependence. This becomes the ideal for us as people who are made in the image of our Triune God.

Knowing our God as Trinity influences and models the way we should act towards one another. So, what are some practical everyday ways we can partner with our God – Father, Son, Spirit – to bring God’s love and healing to family, neighbours and friends? Imagine how different our world would be if families, marriages, communities and nations lived according to the loving, serving, harmony of our one-but-three God. Now turn that imagining into prayer.

Finally, go back over what’s written above. And then prayerfully think about and respond again to the four bolded paragraphs.

Introducing Hannah

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Kia Ora!

My journey towards overseas mission began as a child when my family and I visited an Operation Mobilisation ship that was moored near to where we lived. After looking around the ship and hearing about life on board from people working there, I told my mum “When I grow up I would like to be a missionary!”  

I first visited Fiji in 2015.  As I visited villages and special needs schools I began praying and exploring the possibility of doing a short term mission assignment.  I’d just completed my degree in Early Childhood but I knew I would have to work two years in an early childhood setting in order to get my registration. During this time, I have continued to feel the passion for overseas mission, and to explore where my experience as an Early Childhood Teacher could be used overseas. Earlier this year I approached NZCMS with a view to them supporting my desire to do short term work in a Kindergarten in Fiji.

Since beginning my journey with NZCMS I’ve felt a peace which I believe is a real confirmation that God is calling me to serve in Fiji.  They’ve provided me with the logistical, spiritual and personal support needed to take the next step in serving God on mission overseas. Therefore, from January 2019, I’ll be partnering with NZCMS as an intern volunteering as an early childhood teacher at St Christopher’s Kindergarten in Suva. As I prepare for this new season please pray for:

A continued sense of God’s call and peace as my time overseas gets closer A sense of his peace and presence as I settle into a new country and a new role And the knowledge and assurance that God is with me

Hannah Gennard

A way to pray: November

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I wonder how we’re meant to pray when there are so many distractions around us. In fact I even find my own brain a distraction. Jesus tells us to go into a room and close the door. But my mind starts to fill up the hole left by the lack of external noise straight away. It stays “When is that movie on? What was that noise? How did that stain get on my shirt?” Honestly, it’s ridiculous what it will come up with. I often find that it’s so important to actually find something that focuses your mind on becoming aware of God’s presence. Something that brings our mind under control. Because, in a way, it’s only when you imprison the chatter of your mind that you actually become free to hear from God.    My favourite band, twenty one pilots, says this in one of their songs. “…Tie a noose around your mind, loose enough to breath fine and tie it to a tree. Tell it, you belong to me, this ain’t a noose, this is a leash and I have news for you, you must obey me.” I encourage you to do what the lyric suggests. Before going through the prayer prompts, spend three minutes doing something that entraps your mind into focusing entirely on God. Read a verse of scripture out loud. Sing a line from a hymn. Find a poem. Keep it simple. Let’s pray.

A way to pray

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“This then is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

I think it’s so powerful this prayer. It seems likes Jesus didn’t separate his prayer life with God from the will of God. I often think of my “re-charging and connection time” with God as quiet, prayerful reflections. And certainly there are times for that! But what if prayer could be so closely entwined with our being obedient to God, that doing God’s will and seeing his power transforming this would is just as re-charging and connecting as our quiet times?

I’m reminded of John 4, where Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well. After she leaves, Jesus’ disciples tell him he should eat something. And Jesus replies “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Wow. Isn’t that a powerful statement. Jesus was so connected with his heavenly father that doing his will was his source of ultimate fulfillment and nourishment.

What if prayerful and spiritual fulfillment didn’t just encompass our quiet times with the Lord but included the times that we were serving others? Acting. Doing. Knowing we are being replenished by acting in the authority and power of the God.

Let’s pray.