When we focus on Jesus, our minds may shift first to what he once did for us in the past. He loved me and gave himself for me. He reconciled me to God by dying for me on the cross. So we may think of him more for his work in the past than for his activity with us and for us now. And with our attention on the past, we are not really enjoying his presence with us now. Nor are we anticipating his future with us in the age to come.
Jesus is alive and present with us by his Spirit. Attentive to this Jesus, we must always be asking ‘Who is Jesus for us today and what is he doing here and now? We don’t try hard to live his way asking what he would do if he were here. He has promised to be with us. And Paul says, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me,” Because he is always here, we now ask what is he now doing in me and through me for others? He is our living Lord reigning over us as he lives in us.
When we ourselves have no idea what our next step might be we recall that Jesus is right here with us and for us. So often we find ourselves unclear, uncertain, and anxious about our lives. That’s because we feel that we are left alone to work out what the next step might be. And once we know, to make the effort to do what should be done. We must rather be attentive to what Jesus is doing seeking to get in on what he is doing in and through us.
You are not alone!
The resurrection of Jesus takes place in space-time, but it isn’t merely a great event within human history. It is the good news that God has broken into history with the powers of another world. He has done so, decisively shattering the powers of darkness that ruled over us. Now Jesus reigns supreme over all other powers in heaven and earth visible and invisible. So, the resurrection is the good news that God is creating a new humanity in a new creation enjoying new freedom under the reign of the risen Lord.
Jesus is raised as the New Man who is head over God’s New Creation. However, Jesus isn’t raised simply as an individual, for we are raised with him as New Humanity in him (Eph. 2:5, 6; Col. 2: 12, 13). Now, we, as new humanity in Jesus, look towards God’s new world to come. At the same time, we know that the future has already begun. Already there is new creation: the old has gone; the new has come. The resurrection of Jesus opens an entirely new age in which the future resurrection has already happened. For with the resurrection of Jesus God’s new creation has already broken into the midst of the old.
In the Spirit, we look backward to God’s decisive act in raising Jesus as the new man. And in the Spirit, we also look towards the future horizon of Jesus coming again in ultimate triumph over all the powers of darkness. We do so in the sure expectation that when he is revealed we shall appear with him in glory as the New Humanity in New Creation.
All things were created through the Father’s Son. Furthermore, all things were created for him (Colossians 1: 16). The final goal of all things is that all will be gathered up and united in Jesus (Ephesians 1: 9-11). God’s ultimate intention is Jesus.
However, the powers of darkness invaded God’s creation so that all things came under the reign of sin and death. Under this domain of darkness, all appears to be ruined. But when the fullness of time had come, God invaded this dark realm under this dark rule. He did so through the One who is the final goal of all things – Jesus. He is the ultimate purpose and he is also the one who liberates and puts all things right.
Jesus died and in that death, he ended the reign of sin and death, and then he was raised as the new man in the new creation. The resurrection of Jesus is not simply the raising of someone from the dead but the undoing of sin and death itself in a new creation. The powers of darkness still seem to have the upper hand, but it is Jesus who now reigns supreme as he acts patiently to bring all things to their final destiny in himself. And as those raised with him, we share in his resurrection life and all he is doing to bring all things to the final end in him. Now, as we live and move in union with the risen Jesus, our eyes are fixed on the future horizon of God’s new world. The new world in which all things will be united in Jesus and in which God will make His home with us.
In the Jesus’ story we see God as human encountering people personally and dramatically. In doing so, Jesus communicates who God is and what he is like. He encounters one person revealing God as the holy one. He encounters another opening his compassionate heart. He encounters still another demonstrating God’s awesome power.
We are inclined to put these qualities into separate boxes so that they may even be in tension with one another. We put the justice of the Lord in one box and his mercy in another. We may distinguish these qualities from each other, but they must never be separated. His justice is merciful and his mercy is just. His love is holy love. His power is compassionate power. He is the One God who communicates his varied qualities as the one who IS Love. And these varied expressions of Love are opened to us through the One Lord Jesus in his one Spirit.
As we indwell the drama attentive to the One God, he encounters us personally in his Spirit. And we find ourselves standing in the presence of this living Lord. In this way, he opens himself to us in all the richness of his own personal qualities in ongoing personal encounters. So to know him is to know him again and again in ever new ways. For each encounter in the Spirit is new in its own way. And he encounters us again and again in the wealth of his ways simply because he wants to be with us opening himself to us .
God wants to make himself known to us as he is within himself. And he shows us who he is through an unfolding drama. That means we don’t try to grasp who God is by trying to get our heads around abstract ideas about the Perfect Being. We focus on what God does within his unfolding Drama. As we are attentive to God’s personal and dynamic action, we see something of who he is within his own inner life.
Dramatically, the Father sent his own Son as the lowly servant. The Son came in deep humility making himself nothing as he served his Father in the power of the Spirit even to death on the cross. And as he did so, he was always the Father’s delight, his beloved Son with whom he is well pleased. In the lowly Son, God reconciled the alienated world to himself. And having accomplished this reconciliation through his Son God brings it to completion in us by His Spirit. So now, through the Son and by the Spirit we enjoy real togetherness with our Father.
Dramatically, the Father raised Jesus exalting him as the Son of God in power. As exalted Son, Jesus received from the Father the promised Spirit pouring out that same Spirit on us so that we might participate in the drama. We don’t look at the drama as an audience merely to be entertained. No! We actually take part in the drama. The Spirit brings us inside the Triune Life so that we share in the Son’s relationship with his Father in the Spirit and become real players in the ongoing drama as partners with God in mission.
The Triune God is a communion of joyful love. Within this communion there is a purpose that the three share in together. The purpose is to include others within the communion. The three want others to share in the joyful communication within the communion of love. This purpose is worked out in a great drama that reaches its goal in the new creation with God and humanity together in God’s new world.
We don’t just look at the unfolding drama like an audience at the theatre. No! The Triune God of the drama brings us into the drama for the sake of communion. He wants us to enjoy ongoing communion with him within the drama.
This begins for us as the Living Word speaks to us personally through the drama portrayed in the written word. As the Living Word speaks to us, we respond with the Yes of faith. This is itself drama. Your experience of it may not have felt so dramatic, but the communication that brought you to faith was dramatic. And it was part of the ongoing Triune Drama today. In this way, we participate in the great drama of Father, Son and Spirit.
But this is only the start. The Living Word continues to encounter us personally today through the drama portrayed in the written word. As we indwell the drama, the Living Word shows us more and more of the Triune God himself so that we might grow in our communion with him. This ongoing encounter with the Living Word is a big part of the ongoing drama.
Within Scripture we see the unfolding Triune Drama. In this drama, the Father moves into action reconciling and restoring the world through his Son and by his Spirit. The three are always moving together in dramatic speech and action to accomplish their shared mission.
As we indwell the drama, we meet God as three persons – Father, Son and Spirit. These three relate to one another as a communion of love. And as this communion of love they relate to humanity. Only through this drama do we know anything at all about God as Triune Communion. Left to our own thinking about God, we could only project philosophical ideas about “the most perfect being” infinite, eternal, and unchanging. But within the biblical drama God opens himself in Jesus as Triune Communion – Three persons who mutually indwell each other in self-giving love.
As we indwell the drama, we also meet the triune communion in communication. Through the drama, God communicates with us, but before we move in that direction, we must highlight God communicating within himself as Triune communion. The Father communicates with his Son out of his love for the Son. He communicates with his Son in joy and delight as they move together in mission. The Son communicates with his Father out of his love. He too communicates with his Father in joy and delight as he serves his Father in mission. And both Father and Son communicate with one another in the communication of the Spirit. The God of the drama is not the God of eternal stillness and silence; he is the communion of dynamic and personal communication within himself.
God created all things through his Son and by his Spirit. He did so simply because he wanted to out of the overflow of his own fullness. The Triune Communion did not have to make us. There was no pressure from the outside saying he really ought to create something else. And, there wasn’t something lacking in God that meant he needed to create. He is in need of nothing beyond himself. It would be wrong to say God created because he was lonely, unfulfilled, bored or under compulsion. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and therefore each person within the Triune Communion is always with and for and in another. So, within the Triune Communion, there is complete self-sufficiency. He made us and all things simply because he wanted to out of the fullness of his own inner communion of joyful love. Within the happy home of Trinity, God desired to create with the purpose of making creatures that would be included within his happy communion.
The Triune communion is able to go on forever with fullness of joy and pleasure. But out of his fullness and in celebration of his fullness he created all things. As T. F. Torrance says, “…God is not solitary, for as Father Son and Holy Spirit he is an eternal communion of love and personal being in himself… Far from grudging the creation into existence and reality beyond himself, God freely brought it into being out of his sheer liberality, in order to lavish his love upon it.”
We respond to all this first by praising the Creator himself who is worthy of our praise. And in this praise, we feel his pleasure.
Father and Son love one another deeply in the love of the Spirit. So God does not need to move beyond himself to love and be loved. He is THE fullness of love within his own Triune life. Nevertheless, the God who loves us out of his own fullness of love wants to be loved by us in return. Just as he does not need to love us, he does not need to be loved by us. But that is what He wants. As our one and only true Lord, he wants our exclusive love. However, the love that God wants from us is the love that he works in us by his Spirit.
The indwelling Spirit does not create within us a love that arises out of fear. While true love includes fear of God as reverence and respect, it excludes fear as sheer dread. Terror may have once been a force which drove us to obey. But obedience freely expressed is our joyful response of love as those who are loved. And such love is worked in us by the Spirit.
Furthermore, the indwelling Spirit does not fix our attention on the gifts of God as rewards for loving him. True love to God in the Spirit is focused fully on God himself as the one we love. And this love is expressed in the desire that his will should be done. We are drawn into the circle of God’s love in Jesus by his Spirit. And within this circle of love, we respond joyfully and freely with willing obedience.
God wants to be with us personally. He also wants us to be with him personally. He wants communion with us. And whatever God wants he gives himself to freely and fully so that he might have what he wants. We might say that he gives himself to us with what looks like reckless abandon. But it isn’t the reckless act that arises out of folly, but rather the free expression of abounding love.
God wants a large family that shares in the communion of Father and Son in the Spirit. Beyond this, there can be no greater good. There is no greater good outside of this communion that we still have to discover. There is no greater good within this communion that is even better than sharing in the Son’s relationship with his Father.
In loving us into this communion God does not give us something greater than himself. He gives himself and in giving us himself he gives us everything.
There is nothing more that we need for true life because this communion is true life. Sadly, we do strive after other things in order to live life to the full. And so we become restless. Nevertheless, the God who is love turns us back to himself so that we might find rest in his communal love. And we really do find deep rest in this love, for the love of God has only to be HIS love to be everything for us. And as we learn to rest in his love we enjoy the life for which we were created.