Archive for Life in the Trinity

The Face of God

When people hear the word God they may think of a Perfect Being who is remote and removed from the messy world in which we live our messy lives. This God is the Supreme Being who has no personal face to show us.

Baxter Kruger says that people paint a face onto this faceless deity themselves out of their own pain or guilt or shame or fear. The face that you paint onto this distant deity may well be mean and menacing. A frowning face that is always down on you and judging you. When things go wrong in your life you may feel that this frowning deity is punishing you in some way because you don’t measure up to his demands. When things are going well you may feel you have to perform well in order to keep this menacing deity happy.

Jesus is the true Face of God. Thomas Torrance says, “When we look into the face of Jesus Christ and see there the very face of God, we know we have not seen and cannot see God anywhere else or in another way but in him, for he is God himself become human, and there is no God except the God who has come and meets us in Jesus”

We don’t paint the face of God onto a faceless deity out of our own darkness. The face of God himself has turned towards us in the human face of Jesus. That face is not ugly. It is THE beautiful face. For in the face of Jesus we see the free expression of God’s loving-kindness towards us. And that is beauty surpassing all other beauty.

God with us – FULLY

Do we really see Jesus as God entering fully into the human situation as a human with humans? Or do we rather see him as a human who somehow floats over the human situation?

The Jesus we meet in his story is God for us in complete solidarity with those at odds against himself. He exposed himself to human temptation, suffering and death. He was genuinely tempted so that he faced the real and dreadful possibility of unfaithfulness towards his Father. He became our brother threatened with us, harassed and assaulted with us. As the writer to Hebrews says, “He learned obedience”. He did not commit sin, but he was not immune from it.

God as human was fully with us moving with us towards death. With us He cries “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He bore our need as his own, he took it upon himself and cried with us in our need. Indeed, he knew far better than any other how much reason there is to cry.

We say that God became human and we must have no reservations at all about his total identification with us. Only then do we see the sheer wonder of our God. He is not some distant deity above and beyond us in splendid isolation. He is not some detached divine being who is remote and removed from us. He is rather the God who identifies fully with us by becoming one of us and one with us.

Glorified in humiliation

In our world people are usually glorified as they move upward to stand out above all the rest.  In contrast to this,  the God of majesty was glorified as he moved downward to the very lowest place for us.  In Jesus, God descended into our desperate situation, by making it his own situation. He drew near to us identifying himself with us as the God of needy and unworthy people.  Furthermore, he moved downward to where we are with the aim of lifting us up to where he is with his Father.

In this downward movement we see God’s majestic splendour and beauty in the form of humiliation.  Karl Barth says, “In Jesus, the Almighty exists and acts and speaks in the form of One who is weak and impotent, the eternal as One who is temporal and perishing, the Most High in the deepest humility. The Holy One stands in the place and under the accusation of a sinner with other sinners. The glorious One is cove

In our world people are usually glorified as they move upward to stand out above all the rest. In contrast to this, the God of majesty was glorified as he moved downward to the very lowest place for us. In Jesus, God descended into our desperate situation, by making it his own situation. He drew near to us identifying himself with us as the God of needy and unworthy people. Furthermore, he moved downward to where we are with the aim of lifting us up to where he is with his Father.

In this downward movement we see God’s majestic splendour and beauty in the form of humiliation. Karl Barth says, “In Jesus, the Almighty exists and acts and speaks in the form of One who is weak and impotent, the eternal as One who is temporal and perishing, the Most High in the deepest humility. The Holy One stands in the place and under the accusation of a sinner with other sinners. The glorious One is covered with shame. The One who lives for ever has fallen a prey to death. The Creator is subjected to and overcome by the onslaught of that which is not. In short, the Lord is a servant, a slave.” 

In Jesus, God is magnificently glorified in this humiliation and his Spirit is given to us to glorify him in our hearts. The Spirit glorifies him as the exalted one, but also as the humiliated one. For he is always the Lord as Servant in humiliation and the Servant as Lord in exaltation.

red with shame. The One who lives for ever has fallen a prey to death. The Creator is subjected to and overcome by the onslaught of that which is not. In short, the Lord is a servant, a slave.”  

In Jesus, God is magnificently glorified in this humiliation and his Spirit is given to us to glorify him in our hearts.  The Spirit glorifies him as the exalted one, but also as the humiliated one.  For he is always the Lord as Servant in humiliation and the Servant as Lord in exaltation.

God’s Glory in our Good

In Jesus, God’s glory and our good are inseparably joined together as one. For God brings honour to his own name in the world by reaching out to save the world through Jesus. He takes up our lost and hopeless cause turning it into the greatest good for us. And in doing so magnifies his own name. He gains the victory over all the dark forces that rule over us and so brings honour to himself. The God of glory freely decided to display the splendour of who he is this way. It was his own free decision that he has now executed.

We cannot deduce this from our own ideas of God or of humanity. We can read it only from the free love of God revealed in Jesus. In him, and only in him, that which God does for Himself is also done for us. In this unique person God acts for his own honour and our good in a single movement as our God.

Now we come before God our Father as liberated children desiring to magnify his name. The Spirit of God’s Son cries Abba Father deep within us exalting the name of the one who has freed us through Jesus by his Spirit. And in the same Spirit we anticipate with Jesus our final destiny in which God will be all and all. In this way, God’s glory and our greatest good are inseparably joined together as one in our hearts.

We have seen his glory

The world is turned away from God and incapable of turning back to him. Indeed, it does not even want to turn back. Instead, the world accelerates headlong to the abyss. Nevertheless, God in Christ turns towards the world to reconcile the world to himself.
The Father’s own Son became human taking his own place in the world as one who is not of the world. He moved downward towards us taking the lowest place in order to lift us up to the highest place. He did not owe this to the world because the world is actually hostile to him. The world has no claim on him at all. Nevertheless, God moves into the world in total solidarity with us in order to bring us back home. He does not want to be God without us even though we want to be without him.


The Father’s own Son became human taking his own place in the world as one who is not of the world. He moved downward towards us taking the lowest place in order to lift us up to the highest place. He did not owe this to the world because the world is actually hostile to him. The world has no claim on him at all. Nevertheless, God moves into the world in total solidarity with us in order to bring us back home. He does not want to be God without us even though we want to be without him.

In doing this God displays his own glory in the world as the one who is for the world. He opens to us the inner riches of who he is. The splendour of his own immeasurable love shines among us as we see him taking up the cause of the world as his own. We see love beyond all telling He does what He does for His own sake – to reveal his glory. Nevertheless, he does it all for us. He wants us to live in the love of the Father with Jesus in the Spirit. Now we say with John, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.

The Form of a Servant

He who was in the form of God took the form of a lowly servant. As servant he was obedient even to the point of death on a cross, the lowest place of all. In moving towards us as lowly servant he did not leave behind or even diminish who and what he is. True, he becomes what he had not previously been, but it was all according to God’s eternal decision. Before the creation of the world God willed to be God as this man, Jesus. And so, when he comes among us as one of us even in our sin and suffering he is becoming the one he always wanted to be.

Even in his lowliness Jesus is one with God as the Father’s Son and equal with God. For lowliness as servant is simply his way of being God. He does not change who or what he is in giving himself to serve in humility. He simply reveals his true divinity in the world. For he is in the world what He is with his Father in the Spirit. He is in time what He is in eternity. For in him time and eternity are joined together. He is in human lowliness what he is in his majesty. For his human lowliness is his majesty and his majesty is also his human lowliness.

This is the one that the Spirit glorifies in our hearts so that we bow before him confessing him as the Lord who serves. And in the Spirit, confessing him also as the servant who is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

God Crucified

When thinking about God I used to focus on the general idea of a supreme being. The infinite, eternal and unchanging being who is utterly apart from his creation. But I have since learned to consider God through his own particular unveiling of himself in Jesus rather than my own general ideas about God. For “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18). We must always begin with God as Jesus and when we move to more general notions of God we redefine them in light of this unique and particular unveiling of God as human.

Furthermore, when considering who God is as Jesus we must never evade the cross. Through the cross, the one true God reveals himself as the one who is lowly in suffering even unto death. With the cross fully in view, can we really start from the assumption that such suffering in humiliation cannot be true of God? No! For the crucified Jesus is not a mere appearance of the one true God. He is God crucified.

So what dominates our minds as we think about the one true God? Is it the exaltation of the divine being in his perfection above and beyond all? Or, is it the humiliation and lowliness of the crucified one? There is, of course, deep mystery in the suffering of the one true God but we must never try to solve the mystery by juggling it away. We rather gaze intently into the mystery as the Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts to the majesty of the humble God.

The True God

The world has rejected God and turned far away from him. Nevertheless, the world is not left to its own devices. God actually entered the world in Jesus to turn the world around. Jesus, the lowly man, is himself true God acting in the world to bring us back home. He is not a mere “appearance” of the true and proper divine being beyond himself. He is God himself acting in the world for the sake of our reconciliation.

But doesn’t Jesus, as lowly servant, contradict who and what God actually is? Well, he certainly contradicts all our human ideas about the divine being. For our own natural projections about God turn God into a remote and removed being. One who cannot possibly become a lowly and suffering human. But Jesus is the true God who decided with his Father in the Spirit that he wanted to be with us as lowly suffering servant to bring us back home. So, the only God we know is the one who is willing to be lowly as the suffering servant to take us back to himself. He chooses humiliation in lowly service to reconcile us.

In this action within the world and for the world God shows us who he actually is and what he is like. We do not now speculate about what the divine being can or cannot do because he has done what he wants to do showing us what the true God is like. So, the only God we know is the one who is willing to be lowly as the suffering servant to take us back to himself. And before the true God who is lowly servant we bow in awe and wonder.

The Reconciler

Can the world reconcile itself to God? The world is at enmity with God so it cannot possibly act as its own the reconciler? The world is actually so hostile to God it does not even want to be reconciled. Nevertheless, God loves the world and wants all people to live with him in love relationship. So he came to us in Jesus as reconciler. He came even though we were undeserving. He came even though we made no promises of reform. God alone reconciles humanity to himself. It is God’s own work, and not the work of another. “In Christ GOD was reconciling the world to himself”.

Jesus, the Father’s Son makes peace between God and humanity. He does so by taking upon himself enmity of the world against God and the curse which rests upon it. He is the One who himself takes away the judgment on the world by taking it all on himself.

In order to reconcile us Jesus suffered and even became sin. Was it simply the human Jesus who suffered for us? Or is Jesus God himself suffering as human? We cannot really split Jesus at any point saying this was Jesus as human and that was Jesus as divine? He is always one person as the God-human. So Jesus suffering is truly the suffering of God. We can never understand what that actually means. All we can say is that in Jesus the unfathomable mystery of God’s suffering is an open secret? And we now survey his wondrous cross knowing that we are already reconciled to God through him, our only reconciler.

Communal Decision Happening in Jesus

The Father chose his unique Son to go the way of lowly service for us. And the Son freely chose to go that way as the Lord who serves. Father and Son made this decision together in the Spirit

Jesus did not go this way of lowly self-giving service alone. He was always in the Father and the Father in him. Jesus, therefore, went the way of lowly Servant-Son in union with his Father in the Spirit. The Father sends his Son into the world to serve in lowliness and he is in his Son as he serves. The Spirit rests on the Son as he serves his Father and us so that all he does is in the Spirit. So in Jesus, the lowly servant, the Triune One is among us making his eternal decision happen in history. His decision to be God with us and for us; and for us to be with him.

But what kind of happening is it? Might it not have happened? For sure, all that happened in Jesus within history is rooted in the divine decision which is divinely fulfilled in Jesus. He comes among us rescuing us from the power of sin and death. He dies to end the reign of sin and death over us and we die to that reign with him. He rises as the new man in the new creation and we rise with him to newness of life. He is himself the dramatic saving happening in history making actual God’s communal decision. And now by the Spirit the same Jesus happens in us calling us to faith and sure expectation for the future.