Continuing from my last post, what is the quintessential nature and essence of love?
To the apostle John, God is Love. But, what does this mean?
For me, this means that in the Being of God, there is a dynamic eternal relationship of love and loving among Father, Son and Spirit. This eternal exchange of giving, receiving and responding in love to One Another is within the true Nature and Essence of Who God is, TRIUNE. God’s ThreeOness, ever in loving relationship, One with Another, is the complete and perfect expression of the nature and essence of love. For me, I believe, this is why God is love.
As God, Triune, is love, love also Is, arising from the Triune relationship of God. This means that love exists, because, out of and from the ThreeOne relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. Love is, only because the Triune relationship is genuinely real. Relationships are real and not illusory imaginings, for, relationships have eternally existed in the eternal Triune Being of God.
If God is not Triune but only One, then, only self loving, loving of One’s Self is eternally with and in God. There is no eternal, real and true love for, with and in Another. However, if God is more than One and yet also One, TRIUNE, as revealed in, through and by the Incarnate Son and Spirit, then, true, real and eternal loving relationships, not only for one’s self but also another is revealed to be inseparable from, and essentially in, the Nature, Essence and Being of God. For me, this eternal relational happening of union and communion within the Triune, is, presently, the best matrix by which I comprehend and relate to God’s ThreeOneness, in loving nature and being.
In union, the Three, Father, Son and Spirit are One. In communion, the ONE GOD, is also Three: Father, Son and Spirit. Drawing from this, we can perceive that the completeness and perfection of love not only requires love to and for one’s self, but also love towards all others. This arises from the Triune loving relationship, in union and communion, jointly and severally, loving One’s self, loving all the Others as much as loving One’s self and loving and receiving love, simultaneously, in similar manner, from all the Others
This Triune completeness and perfection of love and loving is the glory of Triune God in eternity: ““Father, those whom you have given to me—I want that those also may be with me where I am, in order that they may see my glory that you have given me because (in that) you loved me before the foundation of the world(i.e.the universe).”
Son’s glory was that of loving union and communion with Father in eternity. Son’s desire was to share this glory with us: “And I do not ask on behalf of these only, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, that they also may be in us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me. And the glory that you have given to me, I have given to them, in order that they may be one, just as we are one— I in them, and you in me, in order that they may be completed in one, so that the world may know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me”.
Son, even in Incarnation, remains ever One with and in Father. To see Incarnate Son is to also see Eternal or Everlasting Father. As Isaiah had prophesied:
“For a child has been born for us;
a son has been given to us.
And the dominion will be on his shoulder,
and his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Spirit is also, in union and communion, jointly and severally, present with Father and Son, in all. For it is in and through Spirit, in union and communion, with Father and Son, in love, that all, including love and loving, happens. Spirit is the Happening of Triune God, through Whom, Triune God, “I Am that I Am”, lovingly happens. Spirit expresses God to us and in us.
 1 John 4: 8,16. “Ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν’”
 Please refer to my earlier posts on relationships. See also the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 where "the Lord (YHWH) is ONE and Lord (YHWH) GOD (Elohim-Plural) is more than one.
 Loving your neighbor as yourself, an expression of love, seen in this light, reveals and points us to the completeness of love within the Triune relationship.
 For me, should be more accurately translated as ”(in) that” - See Strong’s G3754 ὅτι hóti, hot'-ee; neuter of G3748 as conjunction; demonstrative, that (sometimes redundant); causative, because:—as concerning that, as though, because (that), for (that), how (that), (in) that.
 Strong's G2889 – kosmos : 3. the world, i. e. the universe
 John 17:24 Lexham English Bible (LEB)
 John 17:20-23
 John10:30, John17:11
 John 14:9-11, Isa 9:6
 Isaiah 9:6 LEB
 Genesis 1:1-3. John 4:24. 1 Corinthians 12:3-6
 Read Luke 1:34-35 in conjunction with John 1:14 and we see Spirit’s role and involvement in making the Incarnation, the Word becoming a human being, a true and genuine reality, lovingly happen.
 John 14:17 - Statement in a several context. In Christ Jesus, in the joint, Spirit is not only with us but also in us.
Within the relational matrix, we fundamentally and dynamically relate to each other in 5 ways. The extent and depth of trust and intimacy that we have with and for each other is also reflected in these 5 manners in which we relate one to another.
The first way in which we relate with each other is severally. As an adjective, describing the manner of relating, this word severally means respectively, individually, particularly, specifically, differently and separately. We relate and treat each other as unique and distinct individuals. We recognise that who I am is different from who you are. All that I am and all that I have belongs to me even as all that you are and all that you have belongs to you. In essence, what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.
To many of us this is the normal and default mode whereby we relate to the majority of the people that we meet and come into contact with everyday; the strangers that we pass by, our colleagues and others in our workplace, services providers to us and so forth.
To relate to each other severally is to recognise the authenticity of our own identity and the authenticity of the identity of others.
In this respect, it is good. Relating to each other severally affirms the integrity and wholeness of who we are as a person and the integrity of others as persons, in their own right, at the same time.
We also relate to each other in a common manner. Though we are several, ‘what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours’, we recognise that sometimes we have shared and overlapping interests. As such, there are times when we choose to pool resources by contributing part of who we are or what we own into a common pool or venture so that parties in common may benefit from such pooling and sharing of resources. At the same time, the downside or lost to us is limited to the contribution that we have put into the common pool: our energy, time, money and the likes.
Relating because and sharing of a common stake enhances and deepens our understanding and appreciation of giving and receiving. We give a little of what is ours and receive a little of what is others within the sharing in the common. We are brought into a new relationship and experience of being fellow stakeholders with others in proportion to the limited contribution that each brings into the common.
Being common shareholders in a limited company is one such relationship. In common, a portion of ‘what is mine and what is yours’, is now being shared in a common pool( the company) and treated as what is ours, in proportion to the contribution that we have made and agreed to. What each person contributed continues to be recognised as that person’s distinct and divisible interest in the common. Another case is when two or more persons hold property as ‘tenants in common’, in equal or unequal shares.
A representative element is found in the next relationship. This is when we relate to someone as a representative of another or be the representative of another. Here, a person(Representative) assumes the role of a person chosen or appointed by another(Appointee) to act or speak for another or others when relating to others. One instance is an ambassador of a country; a person appointed to represent a country in a forum or place. The ambassador does not act or speak for himself as an individual. He acts or speaks for and on behalf of the nation he is representing. Another illustration is an attorney under a Power of Attorney; a person appointed, given the authority and recognised as having the authority to act for and on behalf of the giver or appointee of the Power or Attorney. The attorney is representing his Appointee and acts for and on behalf of his Appointee, as if he is the Appointee.
In relating to a representative, we are not relating to the representative as his own person in his own right, but as a different person, the person he is representing. Being a representative, I am not who I am, my actions are not mine. In a sense I assume the identity of my Appointee and my actions are the actions of my Appointee. It is only when I am not acting as a representative am I, severally, my own person, and responsible personally for my actions.
As a Christian, I believe God is One.
I also affirm and confess God to be Father, Son and Spirit.
For a major part of my Christian journey, I have found much difficulty and struggled with this belief and confession that God is One and yet Three, Three and yet One.
For over 40 years in my journey, whenever I raised questions and queried on this Triune Being and Nature of God, the answers offered inevitably ended with it being an inexplicable Mystery to be accepted and affirmed in faith, by the faithful. This has been told to me time and time again by well-intentioned Sunday school teachers, bible study leaders, pastors, preachers that I had come into contact with. Theologians with their opinions and using theological terms* also failed to aid me in comprehending, in an experiential manner, this Mystery.
Like a child however, I accepted and trusted their opinions and advice and carried on in my journey, believing in, but without understanding and comprehending experientially how, God can be One and Three.
The resultant for me was that during forty over years of my Christian journey, I remained unclear and confused, as to Who is this God Whom I believe in and confess to be. As such, whenever this issue arose in discussions with others of similar or diverse persuasions and beliefs, my faith in my God would be tried as I could not explain to others in a reasonable manner the Triune Being and Nature of my God. How could I, when I had no clarity, was confused and could not grasp and comprehend it?
I had always taken the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 22:37 seriously: “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Not being able with clarity to comprehend with my mind the Triune Being and Nature of God had a constraining and restraining impact on my love for God, in heart, soul, mind and being. There was an emptiness within me that needed to be addressed if I was to be whole in loving God.
I felt sad with this feeling of lack of wholeness, in loving and relating to God, time and time again, whenever I was challenged to give an explanation as to how God can be Three and One at the same moment.
Yet, notwithstanding all of these, I considered myself a Christian and plodded along believing in this Triune God. Arising from the lack of clarity, confusion and lack of wholeness on my part, my relationship with God had periods of distinction.
As a young Christian, I tended to relate to God in a distinctive discriminative manner: Father as Father, Son as Son, Spirit as Spirit. They were Three Individuals to me. They were Three Gods with distinct personalities and roles. I could not comprehend or understand how all at once, Three could be One or are One.
I formed and had a distinctive and separate relationship with each One. Father was the One who gave and sent the Son into the world. Spirit filled the Son at His baptism by John the Baptist. Son was the one who died on the cross at Calvary.
I saw three distinctive Personalities having distinctive actions and roles in the Scriptures. It was only natural relating with each One separately, while suspending my deep-rooted lack of clarity and confusion as to their Triune Being and Nature. I just accepted Each as God. For all intents and purposes, I was relating to Three Gods.
It did not help when a number of preachers, pastors and teachers that I came into contact with used and applied the analogy of father, mother and child in the family - three individuals, one family – to try to explain how God can be Three and yet One at the same time.
For me, this analogy does not address how three individuals can be One Being. Rather, this illustration groups three individuals under the collective noun of ‘family’. They remained three individuals – Three Gods.
As such, issues and angst soon arose within me. I found myself asking questions: Would either of the other Two be jealous if I spend more time with or pray more often to One more than the Others? How do I find an equilibrium treating Each of Them equally when for different needs and purposes, I approach a different One? Like a juggler, how do I juggle these Three relationships to maintain harmony and rest in my relationship with Each and all of Them and They with me. How do They relate One to Another?
These tensions were continually present in me in my early years as a Christian.
The next distinct period commenced when I was introduced to the writings and sayings of the desert fathers, Christian mystics and as I ventured into and practised Christian meditation and prayer. I also read books and materials of writers of other faiths and persuasions.
I became acquainted with individuals and authors, who in their writings described their experiences as “being lost in and one with God”. In letting go of self, many describe experiencing “bliss” and union and oneness with God, where many of them expressly stated or impliedly suggested that the distinction and barrier between self and God ceased to exist.
There were many instances where passages of Scripture were used to augment the point that we can be One with God. “I and the Father are ONE” (JN 10:30) “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (JN 17:21), and other similar ones were referenced for this purpose.
These writings and practices influenced me to slowly relate to God as One. In doing so, the distinction between Father, Son and Spirit subtly disappeared. I began to relate to Father, Son and Spirit as expressions of the One God: The One God manifesting and relating to me as Father, Son or Spirit.
As I related to God in this non-discriminatory manner, I felt that it did not matter as to whom I was relating to. I was just relating to God. Father, Son and Spirit are just different conduits through which I approach God, Who is One.
Opinions of God revealing Himself as Father in the Old Testament, Son in the New Testament and Spirit at Pentecost seem logical to me. The terms Father, Son and Spirit are just ways, roles that God takes or masks that God puts on to communicate and have a relationship with me.
The predominant analogy that influenced me during this non discriminatory phase is that God is like the three states of water:- One God(H2O),Three expressions or states( solid (ice), liquid(water), gas(vapour)). It made sense to me.
However, other questions arose. Does it mean that there are many ways to God? Is Jesus the only way? If I am one with God and lose myself in God, do I continue to exist or become part of God or have I always been a part of God? If so, is there any real distinction between Jesus and me? If there is no distinction between Father, Son and Spirit, then how does one explain Father giving and sending Son? Who became man, Son or Father? Does it really matter? When Son died at the cross did Father die too? Who did Son commit his spirit to at the cross? The list goes on…
I found myself knowing less and less as to Who is my God.
It affected my state of being to become like a pendulum swinging from discriminatory distinctions( Three Gods) to non discriminatory distinctions( ONE God- Three States; one with God), poles apart separated by a mystery that had to be embraced and accepted by faith.
Unresolved tensions remained and it became increasingly difficult to cope with the pressure of relating to a Mysterious God without comprehension. I continued having difficulty loving and relating in wholeness, in heart, soul, mind and being to a God shrouded in Mystery.
But isn’t this Mystery supposed to have been unravelled in the Person of Jesus, the Son Who became a human being, to enable us to know God in a real and authentic relationship?
Once upon a time, there was a light that shone so brightly, a fire that burned so pure and true. It illuminated all things, turning night into day and opening eyes so they could see. Everyone was amazed that this should be. “Is this light real?” they asked. “How can the light brighten our darkness, when the light cannot brighten itself?”
It is very common to hear about Jesus’ life through his three and a half years of ministry, and it is sometimes difficult for us to identify with his milestones in a meaningful way. Not many of us have had to stand up against the religious and political leaders of the day with a completely new message. In a similar way, it is easier to see ourselves receiving miracles instead of performing miracles as Jesus did for others.
Jesus’ life was set apart to be totally different but, when we take a closer look, we find that it also very much like yours and mine.
He was a refugee.
As a babe, he had to flee from his homeland because of the ambitions of King Herod against him. As a child refugee, he grew up in the land of Egypt, whose pharaohs once enslaved his people. He had to wait until the death of Herod before his family returned to the land of his birth.
He lived under occupation.
He returned from Egypt to a land under occupation by a foreign power. The land of his forefathers had become the Judaea Province of Rome. A Jewish child, he grew up in the faith and traditions of his people, “like a tender plant, a root from dry ground”- Isaiah’s imagery. He had an inquisitive and sharp mind and amazed teachers in the Temple at Jerusalem at the age of twelve.
He was a carpenter, a tradesman by occupation. However, he had a rather nondescript appearance and physique. Isaiah spoke of him as having “no form nor comeliness… there is no beauty that we should desire him”.
He was familiar with discrimination in many situations. He knew what it felt to be at the receiving end of contempt and rejection by others. Sorrow was a frequent companion, grief a regular acquaintance.
He was also familiar with Zealots openly inciting the local populace to rebel against Roman authority. He saw and felt the yoke of the Law that the Teachers of the Law imposed on the general populace. They had retained its forms but lost its substance.
It was this man, living with the challenges and concerns common to the day, who professed to be equal to God. Quite a number found his claim to be blasphemous. How can this man be God?