O glorious God, today we come before You to honor Your name! Today we come to give You praise and adoration! You are our Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, and Giver of every good and perfect gift! May we always rejoice over Your care and love for little, insignificant people like us! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED, HOLY, TRINITY!
TEXT: 2 Cor. 13: 11-14
Dearly Beloved By The Most High God:
Have you ever wondered what God must think of the pitiful attempts by humans to define Him in their own terms? What an outrage! What a slap in the face! And yet, He still loved us enough to send His only Son to save our souls by offering to us, by giving to us, His gift of love and forgiveness. Yes, God Almighty sent His Son to die in our place to pay for all the slander and disrespect that we humans have heaped upon Him! It’s amazing and stunning and nothing short of miraculous!
Look back over human history. Think about all the misguided attempts by humans to define God in strictly human terms. In the OT we have Baal worship. They defined God as a bull with a man sitting astride the creature. This was to signify fertility. After all, if you had a lot of cattle and a lot of kids that’s what made you rich. It was all about human wealth. Follow the money trail.
Throughout the OT there were countless such fertility cults. Likewise, the Egyptians had a whole host of “gods”, much like the Greeks and Romans. Ra, the sun god was one. Likewise, they had “gods” for everything from growing grain to the “god of the dead.” The Mayans worshipped the “sun god,” too. But, if you really ponder it, all these false gods were man-centered, man-designed, and man-created. None of them were what we would call “supernatural.” All of them demanded payment from humans for their faults and foibles. Likewise, all of them were unforgiving.
I’ve often said that if any human were trying to dream up a new religion and trying to entice people to follow it, what sane human would ever come up with the Trinitarian God? The whole concept of one God comprised of three distinct entities Who were fully equal and each 100% God at the same time is totally counter to human thinking. To me, that speaks volumes as to the Trinity’s Godly origins. Yes, only in Christianity does God define Himself and reveal Himself to us in the form of Jesus Christ. Only in Christianity does God freely give salvation to people as a gift, not of human effort. Only in Christianity do you discover such grace.
Today is Trinity Sunday. It is the one Sunday in the church year that we focus specifically upon Who our God really is and what He’s about. In our lesson, St. Paul is writing to the Corinthian congregation that was notorious for its problems and human squabbles. They were filled with misguided notions about the nature of God and what God expected from His beloved children. Here, after devoting 13 chapters of this letter to those problems and God’s solution to them all, Paul concludes with some glorious words: “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God (the Father), and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Could those 68 words be more full of meaning? Could any 68 words you or I wrote down encapsulate Who God really is, what He’s all about, and what our relationship to Him should be—could we ever do it better than St. Paul? I doubt it.
Our Triune God wants all His people to live in a rejoicing mode. Why not? Under His care we have it all—everything we need to be blest and happy in this life. That’s because our God gives Himself to us. Our Triune God wants His people to strive for “full” restoration with Him and each other. He fully resolved our sin-tainted hearts by sending Jesus to pay for all our inner evil on the cross. He reconciled us to Him in Christ. Naturally, we should let who we now are and what we’re about spill over into the lives of all others. Our Triune God wants us to be encouraging to each other. Humans and their false gods are full of demands, rules and regulations. Not the Trinity. He motivates through love. Yes, I know the commandments are demands. They are God’s Law. But why did God give them? Not to cause us to save ourselves by keeping them, because we cannot. No, He gave them to show us our sin, lead us to His grace in Christ, and then to follow them out of respect and appreciation for what He has done for us. Thus, in the Christian church, we don’t demand, we encourage—that’s love in action, isn’t it? Next our Triune God tells us to be unified, to be of one mind about the important things of life, and thus to be at peace with each other. Unity comes from God’s truth. Unity is part of His essence—remember, there’s Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. And when people are unified in mind and purpose—that’s when real peace is achieved. The entire Trinity is all about love, light, and salvation for lost souls. They all combine as the One they are in achieving this salvation. And because of it, “The God of love and peace will be (and is) with you.”
In my Friday morning “Wall Street Journal” was an article in the religious section entitled: “Is Google Replacing God?” It briefly describes MIT researchers’ discovery in declining religious affiliation in America and how the numbers mirror the advance of the internet. They especially key on whether people will feel any need for public worship of “god” since most religious experience to them is all about people interaction and folks can achieve that easier through the internet and chat rooms than by piling in the car and going to church. The article ends with this quote: “In relying on the internet to answer questions that religious institutions used to answer—crowdsourcing faith, in other words—do we risk losing access to some of the answers data can’t provide?”
God gave us a Bible to define Himself to us because human wisdom is faulty in this area. God tells us in the Bible to never “forsake the assembling of yourselves together.” He tells us that we need to formally worship Him—together. He also tells us that supernatural “stuff” occurs in worship—we call it the power of His Word and His sacraments. This is God’s will. This defines Him to us on His terms and not our own. Paul knew all this, too, and that’s why He concludes: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” And to that, all I can say is: Amen, Amen, and Amen!