This weekend, we celebrate Trinity Sunday, a feast that honors the all-important Christian doctrine—which no one quite comprehends—the Holy Trinity.
At best, all we can do to grasp Trinitarian doctrine is to use imperfect analogies. As long as we’re on this side of eternity—in our fallen, time-constrained, 3-dimensional natural world—I suspect we’ll never be able to fully understand the Trinity. For now, we have to take it as an article of faith, a profound divine mystery, that it is true. I also suspect once we get on the other side of eternity, once we get to Heaven and break free of the constraints of time and space, we’ll slap our celestial foreheads and exclaim, “Oh, now I get it! That wasn’t so complicated after all.”
In this week’s gospel reading, the conclusion of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus gives his followers what is known as The Great Commission. This passage is chosen for this week because it contains the most clear Trinitarian statement in all of Scripture. Jesus says, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Although it is difficult to comprehend the concept of the Holy Trinity, it is not difficult to comprehend what Jesus is telling us to do in this Great Commission. He wants us to make the whole world His followers. (Ooh, how politically incorrect is that?! Especially nowadays in our relativistic, perpetually offended culture?)
Also, in this week’s gospel reading, Jesus explains how we can fulfill the Great Commission and bring the whole world into a proper relationship with God. He says, “I am with you always.”
We can’t do it through our own power. We’re too weak. We can only fulfill our commission if we use Jesus’ supernatural power working through us.
Now, at this point, some people are probably saying, “Yeah, we already tried that Great Commission thing. It was called The Inquisition, and burnings at the stake, and bloody warfare, etc.”
Good point. Throughout history some have tried to convert the world to Christianity with swords and guns and terror and death. And this is exactly what relativistic secularists fear when they hear Christians say, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
But conversion to Christ occurs through the heart and free will. It is not accomplished by force; it is accomplished by love. That’s why it is so important that Jesus is with us always. Only when Jesus is with us can we possibly muster enough love to attract the world to the truth of the Gospel. Only when we “love our neighbors as ourselves,” and “lay down our lives for a friend,” and “pray for our enemies” can we show the world that Jesus is the only path to Heaven.
Just as no one can quite comprehend the Holy Trinity, no one can quite comprehend how the world will be converted by love rather than force. But the power of God, the love of Christ, and the truth of the Holy Spirit are greater than anything we can imagine. I suspect once we get on the other side of eternity, once we get to Heaven and see that love and peace truly conquer hatred and violence, we’ll slap our celestial foreheads and exclaim, “Oh, now I get it! That wasn’t so complicated after all.”