“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our own likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” – Genesis 1:26
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” – John 1:1-3
The Bible begins with an account of the creation of the world. God is rightly acknowledged as the creator of the heavens and the earth. In Genesis 1, God is written as singular and one would be forgiven for going away at that point with an understanding of the singular in human terms and everyday usage. But not far away in verse 26, we are told that “God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our own likeness’” (my italics). You will immediately notice the introduction of other personalities in the person that verse 1 simply referred to as God: he says “us” and “our”. Over in the new testament, John introduces to us Jesus the Word of God. He says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3). There we are introduced to the second person in the “us” and “our” that created the world. He was God, He was with God in the beginning, all things were made through him. When Jesus was giving to his disciples what we call The Great Commission, he asked them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Even though he mentioned three personalities, Jesus spoke of the three of them as one person: baptize them in the name (singular) not names (plural). That is what is referred to as the trinity; the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead, the essential being or the nature of God. This doctrine of the Trinity is one of the central affirmations about God in our Christian faith.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE UNITY OF THE GODHEAD?
We can learn at least three lessons from the unity of the Godhead:
UNITY: The very first lesson that comes across from the Godhead is captured in the wording of the title of this article itself: unity. Three persons exist and operate as one. If you or I were god in our own rights, our work in creation would perhaps read “In the beginning the gods created…” And isn’t that the term we use to refer to idols? Not so the Godhead. These persons are so united, so inseparable that their collective existence and work are reported as that of a single person. Beyond existing as one, the Godhead also has unity of purpose. No one works at cross-purposes to the other(s). When it was time to create, they were united in it; when it was time for the redemption of man, they worked and are working together; in the advancement of the Kingdom through the Church, they all work together. Many times our organizations, including local Churches, fail because we are unable to unite our energies around a single purpose; different persons want to do different things and in the end, nothing of lasting value gets done.
One of the central verses that held the belief of the Israelites about God was this: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). God exists in three persons, but they are all one united person in one God.
Anywhere you find even a semblance of the kind of unity that exists in the Godhead, you will also find success. When there was oneness among the people who planned to build a heaven-high tower in Babel, God himself said “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). We think of the possibility of all things only in relation to God. Here, God himself says nothing that a united people plan to do will be impossible for them. When there is unity, impossibility is nothing.
EQUALITY: Another aspect of the Godhead that Deuteronomy 6:4 reveals is the equality in the Godhead. “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” doesn’t only mean unity or the absence of conflict, it also means equality. In John 10:30, Jesus said of himself, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews, who understood this dimension of that scripture, picked up stones to stone Jesus. Their reason was that he, being a mere man (by their estimation), claimed to be God (John 10:30-33). Philippians 2:6 confirms to us the equality of the Son and the Father. Even when the Son had to be humbled to take the form of a man, a servant, he did not see equality with God as something to be grasped; no fear that he would lose out of something. In 1 Peter 1:2, the Apostle talks about being chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood.” He places them on the same pedestal. No one feels threatened by the other(s).
The battle for supremacy and the vaunting of oneself has been the undoing of many a ministry. It is in the nature of Satan and not of God, to wage war for the top position. Why are the founders of our own human organizations, the Church inclusive, always clearly at the top? There is an inherent fear of losing the top spot and being equal with those considered as subordinates. The title has to be different; the vehicles in use must reflect the difference in status; even the portion of food, meat and drinks shared at meal times has to reflect that. It is laughable but true. That would not be seen in the Godhead. That’s a lesson for us to learn.
SELFLESSNESS: Notice that the members of the Godhead operate in dispensations: The Father at creation, the Son at redemption, and the Spirit in the Church age. Even though all of them are always at work together, one person seems to be the face of their work at a particular time. When a particular member of the Godhead is at the centre of a particular dispensation, notice how he glorifies the others and the others glorify him. At Jesus’ baptism, all three were present. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus the Son, God the Father spoke from heaven about how pleased he was with the Son (Matthew 3:17). On the mount of transfiguration, the Father again declared his pleasure in the Son and commanded that he be listened to (Matthew 17:5). Jesus spoke about the danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29). He also said when the Spirit of truth (a kind way to refer to the Spirit) comes, he wouldn’t speak on his own but will testify about Christ (John 15:26; 16:13). No one of them takes the glory for themselves, they glorify the other. O that we would learn not to flaunt ourselves in life and ministry but to, like scripture says, consider others better than ourselves.
As we have seen, there are three persons in the Godhead who operate as one and remain indivisible. Our major take away from that as children of God is that as a Church, we are many parts but all members of one body. If the Godhead has existed since before the beginning of time as one, then it is also possible for us as different members of one body, to put aside our petty differences and live and work together as one. Husband and wife, brother and sister, neighbor and neighbor can also learn from the unity of the Godhead and draw strength from them to be united and tackle life’s assignments together.