The Trinity of God
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As Christians, we believe that God is a triune being made up of these three persons. We read about the Trinity in the Bible, we learn about it in Sunday School, and we take it on faith. But for many, the idea of a three-in-one God is quite confusing. If someone were to ask us to explain it, we would probably have a hard time doing so.
When Saint Patrick shared the Gospel with the Irish in the fifth century, he searched for an illustration to explain the Trinity. Legend has it that he picked a three-leaf clover. Pointing to each of its leaves, he explained that the single clover is made up of three distinct leaves. In the same way, God is made up of three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This elegant explanation resonated with the people, and Christianity spread throughout Ireland.
The Trinity of Humanity
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27 NAS).
I read this verse when I was little, and I asked two big questions: why is God plural (”Our image”), and in what way are we in God’s image?
I quickly learned that God has three parts: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s why God refers to Himself in the plural.
So in what way are we similar to God’s image? We, too, are a trinity of sorts. Each of us is comprised of a body, soul, and spirit.
A Trinity in Harmony
The Trinity of God is always in perfect harmony. Jesus tried to explain this when He spoke of doing the Father’s will.
“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him‘” (John 8:28-29 NAS).
It’s believed that Adam and Eve also enjoyed internal harmony, allowing them to commune with God effortlessly. Then they sinned, and a disconnect occurred. Now we can’t use our minds to control all of our bodily functions, so diseases run rampant. We struggle to use our spirits to control our thoughts, but we still sin. Our internal trinity is often at war, as Paul explained to the church in Rome:
“For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:22-25 NAS).
Thankfully, Jesus told us how to fight this internal conflict:
“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NAS, Jesus speaking).
When we become believers and submit to God, He gives us strength, peace, and guidance, but our internal trinity remains disconnected. Some may wonder at this, but we should remember that God wants us to rely on Him and walk in faith.
I do believe, though, that when we get to heaven our bodies, souls, and spirits will once again be in perfect harmony. This will allow us to worship God in the way He always intended—and a way we can’t possibly imagine right now!
A Thoughtful St. Patty’s Day
There are probably many reasons God made us in His image. Perhaps our internal trinity connects with God’s Trinity like a puzzle piece. Perhaps it’s a magnet of sorts, drawing us inexorably closer to our Creator. Or maybe our trinity is a mark of God’s design, like a shamrock stamp that identifies us as one of God’s special creations.
This St. Patty’s Day, after you finish your corned beef and cabbage, I encourage you to take some quiet with the Lord. Sit in amazement at a Creator who loved you enough to make you in His image. Now, that’s something worth celebrating!
“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:17-20 NAS).