by Joel Comiskey, Winter 2019
Does anyone really understand the Trinity? No. But we believe the Trinity because Scripture tells us that God is one and exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In one sense, God is a small group. And he wants us to be like him.
God not only “designed” believers to be like himself, but he then works within them to fulfill this design. In reality, a personal relationship with God is not really personal. Rather, it’s communion with the three-in-one who then transforms believers to be like him. As the Trinity works within us, we can begin fulfilling the “one anothers” of Scripture. Jesus himself says a believer cannot bear fruit by himself; he must remain in the vine to bear fruit. As believers remain in the Trinity, his power and transforming love molds and shapes them to live in love and unity.
Small groups help us move from a life of individualism toward one of community. And this requires a powerful inner transformation. The good news is that God is within believers, molding and shaping them to be more community oriented, to reflect the Trinity’s nature. As the Trinity works within believers, they begin to reflect his design for them. This “design” is what Larry Crabb, famous psychologist and popular author, pinpoints,
We were designed by our Trinitarian God (who is himself a group of three persons in profound relationship with each other) to live in relationship. Without it, we die. It’s that simple. Without a community where we know, explore, discover, and touch one another, we experience isolation and despair that drive us in wrong directions that corrupt our efforts to live meaningfully and to love well.
I’ve written extensively about personal devotions and believe strongly in them. The most important book I’ve written, in fact, is about personal devotions called An Appointment with the King. Yet, increasingly I’ve come to understand that personal devotions are not really personal. Rather, a time of personal devotions is communion with the Trinity, the three-in-one. Devotions are all about growing in a love relationship with a God who does not act independently or in a selfish, individualistic manner. Our relationship with him then overflows to our relationship with others.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer experienced the horrors of Nazi Germany, the embodiment of human-centered pride. Yet, in the midst of such chaos, Bonhoeffer wrote, Life Together, a treatise of God-centered community between believers. He writes,
The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother. The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God.
God helps us see his presence in others and to love them like he does. We begin to see how he is molding people and transforming them into his image. Community, in fact, is the very nature of God.