Monday, June 1, 2009

The Vision That Transforms

In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah has a tremendoues encounter with God.  Everything about this vision emphasizes God's glory and majesty.  God is seated on a throne, lofty and exalted, the train of his kingly robe filling the entire temple.  Majestic, six-winged creatures stand guard at God's throne covering their faces with two wings because God is too holy to look upon, covering their feet with two wings as a euphemism for hiding their nakedness before God, and using two wings to fly.  These magnificent creatures cry out "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.  The whole earth is full of his glory."  The temple shakes and fills with smoke.  That's enough to cause just about anyone to tremble.  

Enter Isaiah.  Upon seeing this spectacular vision of God, he knows that he is in trouble.  As a mere, unclean human being, he can not survive the overwhelming holiness of this God.  However, Isaiah is not destroyed by the vision but is cleansed and tranformed by it.  Isaiah is right to say that he is unclean and can not stand before God but rather than allowing that to destroy Isaiah, one of the heavenly messengers intercedes to make Isaiah clean.  Now, Isaiah is not only cleansed but also sent on a mission.  (Although, as we read on in Isaiah 6, we find it is a rather depressing and confusing mission but that is another blog post for another day.)  This vision of God transforms Isaiah's whole life.  

This is what we need as well; a vision of God that will transform us.  Of course, our vision of God may not be as dramatic as Isaiah's but we need a true vision nonetheless.  For Christians, that true vision of God is centered in the doctrine of the Trinity which is celebrated on this first Sunday after Pentecost known as Trinity Sunday.  The doctrine of the Trinity gives us a true vision of God by reminding us that God is:

Involved in our history and our world.  After all, there would be no doctrine of the Trinity if the Father had not sent the Son and the Spirit into his creation to engage it and redeem it.  The historical life of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, by which God revealed himself as Triune, show us that our God is a missional God who is actively about the work of redemption and making our world new.  

Relational in the very essence of his being.  Our God is a God of relationships.  This is true not only because he wants to be in relationship with us but because God is contanstly in relationship.  Even God does not exist alone and isolated as an individual since God exists as three persons.  There is no God apart from the relationships that exist between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  

Characterized by holy and sacrifical love.  We see this most clearly in the person of Jesus as he willingly bears the cross.  However, this is not only a characteristic of the Son but of the Father and the Spirit as well.  None of the three persons dominates the other
 two but each has their own role in the Godhead and continually points to the other two.  Even though it is the Father who sends and may therefore be interpreted as being "in charge", Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane shows that the Son is free in his obedience to the Father.  Each person of the Trinity sacrificially makes room for the other two to exist freely while also being so bound in relationship to the other two that there is really only one God and not three.  

Just as Isaiah's vision informed his prophetic identity and mission, so also our vision of the triune God must inform our identity and mission as the Church.  We must be an iconic image of the Holy Trinity.  We are called to be a missional people, sent to engage our world.   We must recognize that we have been built for relationship; relationships characterized by holy and sacrificial love.  We must make room for others to exist freely with us, emptying ourselves of all power and position so that we might become inseparably bound in relationship with those who are different from us and as a result become intertwined as one body, the Body of Christ.  Inasmuch as we succeed in doing that, we will 
have succeeded in reflecting the love of the God that we serve and being the people that God has called us to be.  

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