This week we are thinking about how we can know More of God.
There can be a certain pleasure in knowing about something. But that pleasure is usually nothing in comparison to experiencing that same thing. For instance, reading a sheet of music doesn’t evoke the same excitement as actually hearing the music or playing it for yourself. In the same way, reading and knowing about God can be enjoyable. But experiencing God first-hand can blow our minds, bring us to tears, or make us skip with joy.
The purpose of this study is to allow us to experience more of God.
This study is driven by two key principles:
- God is known through the three Persons, so we relate to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit
- Our unity with God in Christ is the basis of our community with God in experience
Today we’ll focus on the foundations of these 2 principles.
We can know God: The Principle of Three and One
Prayer can feel quite abstract. What are we actually praying to? God is beyond comprehension – we will never fully understand God. However, we can know the Persons of God.
God lives in an eternal community in which the Father, Son, and Spirit relate to one another in love. This is also how we can relate to God. So a relationship with God is actually a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Once we grasp this, we will be able to have a deepened relationship with God by relating to each of the Three Persons in turn.
For instance, when you pray, think about addressing your words to the Father through the Son with the help of the Spirit. Or when you read the Bible, think of the Father revealing himself in his Son by the Holy Spirit.
Stop and think about this for a moment. How does the Father relate to you and how do you relate to him? What about the Son? And the Holy Spirit?
It is important to also remember that God is one. The unity of God matters because it means that to know one of the Persons is to know all three – you never relate to them on their own. Our thoughts will naturally move from one to the other.
True Christian spirituality involves a constant movement from the one to the three and the three to the one. We need to train our hearts to think of the three Persons and how we relate to each of them distinctly. But at the same time, we need to train ourselves to think of the three as one, so that to relate to the one person is to encounter the other two.
We can know More of God: The principle of union and communion
The Christian life involves a living, felt experience of God. There is a real two-way relationship with giving and receiving, being loved and loving. Christianity is not just truths about God that we should believe, or a lifestyle that we should adopt. It’s a real two-way relationship – a relationship that we experience now. We have “communion with God”.
The only reason that we have this communion with God is because of the death of Christ. The death of Christ provides a unity between us and God based entirely on God’s grace. This unity with God allows us to have communion (two-way relationship) with God.
There are 2 dangers we need to be aware of:
- Thinking that our relationship with God is something we achieve – union with God is one-direction, completely from God. The death of Christ was a gift to allow us to have union with God. It starts with the Father’s loving choice (his grace), it’s achieved through the work of the Son, and it’s applied to each of us through the Spirit. There is nothing for us to achieve to make it possible, we don’t even contribute. All we do is to relate to God through Jesus, there is no other way of achieving union with God.
- Settling for little of God. So the above means that we all have a union with God. But not all of us will be enjoying our relationship with God. What we do does affect our experience of God. We are able to contribute to our communion with God.
Grasping this difference between union and communion is important. Our union is totally from God – our actions don’t make us more Christian or keep us as Christians. But our actions do alter our enjoyment of God – our communion with him is a two-way relationship.
That is why we can have a weak relationship with God as Christians. But we can also always be confident in the union that we have with God. Over the coming weeks we’ll be focussing on how to improve our communion with God. However, remember that this communion is only possible because of God’s grace and our unity in Christ.
- With which member of the Trinity do you have the strongest sense of a lived, experienced relationship?
- What happens if we think of God’s oneness to the exclusion of the three Persons?
- What happens if we think of the three Persons to the exclusion of God’s unity?
- Do you ever find talk of spirituality or communion with God intimidating? What comfort is there in the principles of union and communion?
- What happens if we think our union with God involved our activity? What happens if we think our communion with God doesn’t involve our activity?
Each day for a week spend time praying to the Father and then to the Son and then to the Spirit. In each case, offer praise and make requests that are particularly related to that Person’s distinctive role in your life.