Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trinity + 1

Ezekiel chapter one records a vision of God’s glory.  At first, we are struck by the theatrics of the vision: a windstorm, fire, thunder, wheels covered with eyes….  Yet, there is something about this vision of glory we will miss if we go no deeper than the special effects (1 Kings 19:11-13).  In the midst of the fire, Ezekiel sees four living creatures.  Each has the face of a man, a lion, a calf, and an eagle. All move as one:  “Each one went straight ahead.  Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went” (Ezek. 1:12).
In glory, nothing originates in self, no one moves independently.  All proceed by one Spirit.  One creature doesn’t fly off on its own while another roars and runs around.  Sometimes they all fly, and sometimes they all roar “Holy, holy, holy,” but whatever they do, they do by one Spirit (Ezek. 1:19; Rev. 4:8).   This is a reflection of God’s unity and of the selfless fellowship that defines the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The unity of God is not a unity of sameness.  The members of the Godhead are as individual as the creatures.  Yet none of them lives to Himself.  None moves based on His prerogative or power as God.  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing out from himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19).  In saying this, Jesus was not referring to His human dependence on God.  He was speaking about the divine nature.  In the same vein, He said of the Spirit, “He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears” (John 16:13).  This could not possibly refer to the Spirit’s human dependence on God for the Spirit never became man as did the Son.  The glory of God, then, is marked by a fundamental denial of self and preferring of others.
            Dependence on God is not primarily a function of human need.  God has none of our needs yet each member of the Godhead operates interdependently.  It is important for us to see that we have not just been called to eternal neediness.  We have been called into glory, to live as members of God Himself.  Perhaps this is why Ezekiel sees four living creatures.  By grace, we have been added to the Trinity and to the flow of life between them!