(This is an excerpt from Chapter Four of What Story Have We Fallen Into?)
“And the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.”
The brilliant physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla stated:
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
Really? Can Creation be reduced to sterile energy, frequency, and vibrations? Is that all life is?
Not exactly a heart-warming thought!
Humans long for meaning, romance, adventure, relationships, joy, and love. It would be enormously disappointing to discover that the core issue of the cosmos comes down to some impersonal quantifiable force. If that’s the heartbeat of reality—we must be in the wrong universe!
The worldview that emerges from Holy Scripture is radically different. The apostle John brings to light “the secrets of the universe”—and they are astonishingly wonderful!
John launches his Gospel with the most revolutionary statement in the history of human thought about God. He reveals there is more going on within the Almighty than anyone had imagined. He boldly overturns all previous notions of deity.
“And the Word was with God…” (John 1:1).
In eternity, God was not alone—somebody else was there.
The phrase translated “with God” literally means “toward God.” There was face-to-face interaction going on. There was intimacy; there was connectedness. One scholar translates the verse, “the Word was very close to God.” The relationship was both dynamic and intimate.
Don’t miss this detail.
“The Word was with God” involves something huge. The unpretentious term “with” doesn’t usually get much attention. But look closely. Behind these four letters lies a world of mystery, beauty and ecstasy. There is a symphony of life and goodness here.
The Word is not “with” God in the way a hammer is together with a chisel in a toolbox. The “with-ness” John talks about is much deeper. It is more like a musical note that teams up with two others and blends with them to make a three-voice chord. The notes get inside one another, they interact, harmonize, and enhance each other, generating a pleasant fuller sound called a triad or a chord. Each note retains its identity while becoming part of something greater and richer.
God is also the blending of three. He is not a solitary note; He is the harmony of multiple notes.
He is polyphonic.
God is the perfect harmony of the original melody that is so indescribably rich, so unsurpassably beautiful, so wildly expansive, that it ran the risk of spilling over into the creation of a universe.
Which, as you might suspect—is exactly what happened.
The writer adds a fascinating detail:
“And the Word was God” (John 1:1).
This is where our brains get bent out of shape.
Three facts stand out:
• There is a person called the Word.
• This person is with God.
• This person is God.
In the same breath, the apostle distinguishes Him from God and identifies Him as God.
How do you put that together?
If I were to state: “I am with the boss, and I am the boss.” You would probably exclaim: “That’s ridiculous! Which one of the two is it?”
John is saying something equally puzzling about God.
It took the early Christians a few centuries to process this mystifying connection between the Logos and God. How can the Word “be” God and at the same time be “with” God?
Welcome to the glorious enigma of the Trinity!
It is here we come to the very heart of reality, the matrix of everything. This is the marvelous mystery at “the very center of the very center.” It is of huge importance and has fabulous ramifications for the narrative that unfolds.
The very first phrase in the Bible, “in the beginning God,” under-scores the rock bottom truth that there is ONE and only one God. Singular. He has no rivals. He alone is God.
The first verse in the Gospel of John takes it a step further. It lets us in on the secret that something dynamic and beautiful takes place within God. In God, there is both oneness (“was God”) and community (“with God”). The oneness of God includes otherness.
We are not talking about an absolute oneness (like one apple or one book), but a composite oneness (like one team or one audience). God is both one and more than one.
There are religions that claim belief in “one God,” and others that worship many gods. But only Christianity brings “one” and “more than one” together. It embraces a belief in the Tri-unity of God—a remarkable concept!
Trinity establishes relationships and community as fundamental truths about God. Trinity is not one of the many attributes like holiness, mercy, patience, wisdom, power, etc., that describe how God acts. Trinity is the primary fact about God. This is who He is.
God does not live in aloneness; He lives in togetherness—in the loving interaction of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The foundational reality of God’s being is not the individual persons of the Godhead but their deep relatedness. Every one of His attributes flows out of this loving union of Three Divine Persons.
Relationships did not start up with Adam and Eve—they existed eternally in the Three-In-One God. The Creator who said in Genesis: “It is not good for man to be alone,” has never been alone. The triune life of God has always been one of community and togetherness.
“There is no such thing as the silence of eternity,” writes Robert W. Jenson. “What is eternal is not silence, but discourse.”
The Most High inhabits the Eternal Conversation.
John’s Gospel forces us to scrap the notion of a distant deity who is a shapeless, passionless, colorless being living somewhere in outer space in eternal boredom.
“You’ve got it all wrong! In the beginning, there was life and joy and overflowing goodness. There was a Dance—and it was indescribably wonderful.”
All through his book, the beloved apostle gives us glimpses of the inner life of this Three-In-One God. Jesus’ connectedness with His Heavenly Father was the central factor of His life. The way He related to Abba during His earthly life reveals fascinating aspects of what goes on within the Trinity. A number of features stand out:
• Intimacy (1:18)
• Companionship (5:19; 16:32)
• Love (3:35; 14:31; 15:9)
• Unity (10:30)
• Transparency (5:20)
• Harmony (5:19)
• Honor (8:29, 54)
• Joy (15:11; 17:13)
This is the inner life of God! There is interaction, dialogue, closeness, gladness and fellowship.
And it has been going on forever.
Listen to C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
The most important difference between Christianity and all other religions [is] that in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance….
Unlike the remote, solitary, aloof, faceless deity that exists in the minds of many, the stunningly beautiful truth about the true God is this: He is a Holy Trinity. The blending of Three Persons. A joyous interchange of love, honor, creativity and goodness.
And this universe has never seen anything like it.
Bio: Jurgen Schulz is a Canadian missionary from Victoria, B.C., who, along with his wife Wendy, has served in Bolivia for over forty years. He is currently an instructor at the Seminario Bíblico Evangélico in the Andean city of La Paz, Bolivia.
You can read more about the ministries of Jurgen and Wendy at this link on the MSC website.
This excerpt is from Jurgen’s book, What Story Have We Fallen Into?, which you can purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, and other stores.
Photo credit: Provided by the author. In the public domain by Creative Commons license.
Helpful resources provided to 'living theology' subscribers.YES!