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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Power of Trinitarian Love and Fellowship

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trinity: Week 3

The Power of Love
Sunday, September 25, 2016

I think it’s foolish to presume we can understand Jesus if we don’t first of all understand Trinity. We will continually misinterpret and misuse Jesus if we don’t first participate in the circle dance of mutuality and communion within which he participated. We instead make Jesus into “Christ the King,” a title he rejected in his lifetime (John 18:37), and we operate as if God’s interest in creation or humanity only began 2000 years ago. Did the first fourteen billion years mean nothing?

Humans are more comfortable with a divine monarch at the top of pyramidal reality. So we quickly made the one who described himself as “meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29) into an imperial God, both in western Rome and eastern Constantinople. This isn’t the naked, self-emptying Jesus on the cross. This isn’t a vulnerable, relational one, who knows how to be a brother to all creation. The Greek Zeus became the Latin Deus; and we no longer knew Jesus in any meaningful sense that the soul could naturally relate to (which was the main point of the Incarnation!).

Circles are much more threatening than pyramids are, at least to empires, the wealthy, or any patriarchal system. What if we actually surrendered to the inner Trinitarian flow and let it be our primary teacher? Even our notion of society, politics, and authority—which is still top-down and outside-in—would utterly change. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:13) should be our circular and all-inclusive ecology. From the very beginning of creation we see this pattern: God the Father, Christ the Word, and the Holy Spirit as a mighty wind (see Genesis 1:1-3).

It’s no surprise that the Western political notion of the divine right of kings held for so many centuries. We still see that most people are utterly fascinated by those they think are “important” or “powerful,” whether athletes, politicians, spiritual leaders, or celebrities. It’s as if they have a unique power or energy flowing from “out there” or “up there” instead of anything in here. I don’t think we would operate in this out-of-body way if we were in vital connection with the Trinity and the Indwelling Spirit.

Trinitarian theology says that spiritual power is more circular or spiral, and not so much hierarchical. It’s here; it’s within us. It’s shared and shareable; it’s already entirely for us and grounded within us. What hope this gives us! “[A]nd hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). God’s Spirit is planted within each of us and operating as each of us! Let’s not keep looking to the top of the pyramid. Let’s stop idolizing the so-called “One Percent.” There’s nothing worthwhile up there that is not also down here. Worst of all, it has given ninety-nine percent of the world an unnecessary and tragic inferiority complex.

Trinity shows that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion. If the Father does not dominate the Son, and the Son does not dominate the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit does not dominate the Father or the Son, then there’s no domination in God. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power.

There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—a giving away, a sharing, a letting go, and thus an infinity of trust and mutuality. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in marriage, in culture, and even in international relations. Isaiah tried to teach such servanthood to Israel in the classic four “servant songs.” [1] He was training them in being “light to all nations” (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6), but Hebrew history preceded what Christianity repeated: we both preferred kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love.

We all already have all the power (dynamis) we need both within us and between us—in fact, Jesus assures us that we are already “clothed” in it “from on high” (see Luke 24:49)!

Gateway to Silence:
Dance with Us.

[1] See Isaiah 42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity (CAC: 2005), disc 5 (CD, DVD, MP3 download); and
Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 95-96.

Image Credit: Dancers (detail), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), 1899. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio.
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