[Jesus said] “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (NIV)
“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.”–Noah, from the movie, The Notebook
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Love makes the world go around. Love is the invisible spiritual and emotional atom giving our lives substance, energy, and meaning. God is that atom, constantly creating love within himself in an explosion of attentive fatherly protons, gracious messianic neutrons, and active Spirit electrons.
In this post Day of Pentecost time, as well as the anticipation of Trinity Sunday, we are reminded of the connection between God the Son, God the Father, and God the Spirit. Yes, as today’s Gospel lesson demonstrates to us, Christians serve a triune God – one God in three persons. Many metaphors have been attempted (attempt is the right term for my atom analogy) to try and explain the Trinity. The truth is, although some images are helpful, they all fall short. That is because I can no more explain God than I can explain my wife and daughters. Just as females are an enigma to males, so God moves, acts, and speaks in ways that are ofttimes puzzling to humanity. Maybe that is why Jesus said the world does not discern or accept the Holy Spirit. Far too many folks like nice tidy answers to clear questions. Jesus babbling about some person living in us appears highly nonsensical to a chunk of humanity.
So, for me, I continually come back to what I know and understand about the Trinity: It is an intimate fellowship of love. In love, the Father and the Son have sent the Spirit to be with us forever – the Spirit of truth. In a world where evidence-based reasoning typically eschews any sort of intuitive knowledge, there are many learned people who believe spiritual matters are best left to guys like me. Yet, we severely truncate our ability to know anything if our epistemic presuppositions are bereft of knowledge beyond our five senses. For Christians and many other spiritually sensitive people, we discern there are senses beyond taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. Indeed, for those with spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear, there is a vast multi-dimensional world far above and beyond the habitation of our three-dimensional space. And love binds it all together.
I once asked an extremely secular-minded friend about love. He talked of loving words and actions that are derived from biological instinct and well-developed brain chemistry. After he spoke at some length about this, I simply asked him, “Does that kind of understanding about love help you in your relationships, especially with your girlfriend?” He looked at me like I had caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. “It doesn’t – and we are not doing so well in our relationship.”
I am not here to make digs at secular thinkers. In fact, I deeply appreciate the many friends I have whose worldviews are quite different than mine. I just have personally discovered that the Bible rings true for me (and it did not for many years when I was younger) and that the Trinity is a reality because of the Holy Spirit’s witness of truth in me.
Love is a matter of the gut and the head as well as the heart. Love can no more be relegated to limited spheres of being than a mule can be tamed with nicely asking him to settle down. Love is much too big, expansive, and powerful to be contained. So, it resides within God because God is the only Being which can hold it. God’s words and actions are not merely loving – God himself is love. And God lovingly bestows that love to us in measures and in ways we can absorb it and know it. Just as people can die of a broken heart, so their hearts can burst if filled with such overwhelming love. The Father and the Son have graciously given the Spirit to be a kind of steward of love within us – dispensing love with great care and attention in ways we feel it and may not be able to explain it with words.
I take great solace in the fact that the Holy Spirit is my Advocate. We all have times in our lives when we just cannot seem to get anywhere – or do not have the ability to express what we want. In such times, we need an advocate, someone who has the weight to be heard by others – someone who has our back when we are experiencing limitations. The Spirit is such a person. And the Spirit advocates for us in loving ways for all parties involved. The only thing impossible for God is to be unloving and unkind; it is not in his nature. Because of divine love, God sent the Son, then the Spirit, to be with us forever so that we would never be alone and always have someone to champion our well-being.
Living in obedience to the God of Love is sheer joy and delight. Laboring for the Lord seems almost effortless when we have a true vision of God high above, surveying all creation with eyes of love for his people – as well as a vision of God below and right next to us, listening with rapt attention to our every word and himself delighted with each movement we make.
Look upon us, O Lord, and let all the darkness of our souls vanish before the beams of your brightness. Fill us with holy love, and open to us the treasures of your wisdom. All our desires are known to you, therefore, perfect what you have begun and what your Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer. Turn your face toward us and show us your great love and glory. Then shall our longings be satisfied, and our peace shall be perfect.
–A Prayer of St. Augustine, 354–430 CE