God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies.25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other.27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
–Apostle Paul, Romans 1:18-35 J.B. Phillips New Testament
In determining relationships we must begin somewhere. There must be somewhere a fixed center against which everything else is measured, where the law of relativity does not enter and we can say “IS” and make no allowances. Such a center is God. When God would make His Name known to mankind He could find no better word than “I AM.” When He speaks in the first person He says, “I AM”; when we speak of Him we say, “He is”; when we speak to Him we say, “Thou art.” Everyone and everything else measures from that fixed point. “I am that I am,” says God, “I change not.”
As the sailor locates his position on the sea by “shooting” the sun, so we may get our moral bearings by looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when and only when we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.
It is God with whom we have to do. People go for long stretches of time without being aware of that, thinking it is money, or sex, or work, or children, or parents, or a political cause, or an athletic competition, or learning with which they must deal. Any one or a combination of these subjects can absorb them and for a time give them the meaning and purpose that human beings seem to require. But then there is a slow stretch of boredom. Or a disaster. Or a sudden collapse of meaning. They want more. They want God. When a person searches for meaning and direction, asking questions and testing out statements, we must not be diverted into anything other or lesser.
What brings life meaning? Three components: wonder, truth, love, and security. In our infancy, the sense of wonder; in our youth, the understanding of truth; in our middle years, the experience of love; and in our old-age, the confidence of security. And we have found out through life that many of the things we give to each other as security do not really add up to much. We want something that goes beyond these three score years and ten…
The older you get the more it takes to fill your heart with wonder, and only God is big enough to fill it. Meaning comes from wonder, truth, love and security. And God, who is the perpetual novelty, who gave us a Son who is the way, the truth, and the life, who loved you and gave himself for you on the cross, and says, “Because I live, you shall live also,” that’s when meaning comes in, when these four components deal with the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny, and bring that coherence into your life.
All men and women hunger for God. The hunger is masked and misinterpreted in many ways, but it is always there. Everyone is on the verge of crying out “My Lord and my God!” but the cry is drowned out by doubt or defiance, muffled by the dull ache of their routines, masked by their cozy accommodations with mediocrity. Then something happens—a word, an event, a dream—and there is a push toward awareness of an incredible Grace, a dazzling Desire, a defiant hope, a courageous Faithfulness. But awareness, as such, is not enough. Untended, it trickles into religious sentimentalism or romantic blubbering. Or, worse, it hardens into patriotic hubris or pharisaic snobbery . . . the awareness [needs to get] past subjectivities and ideologies into the open and say “God.”
Travel back in your mind for a moment to the beginning of time, before Creation, and imagine a God who is not a Trinity: a solitary, all-powerful, self-sufficient Supreme Being. He relates to no one, answers to no one, speaks to no one. He is independent and alone, living in secluded splendor.
His thoughts do not go beyond Himself, because He is all there is. He knows nothing of relationships, dialogue, intimacy, love, friendship, serving, or giving. He has no need to practice consideration, patience, respect, generosity, self-sacrifice, compassion, or kindness. He takes no one else into account, because no one else is there. His existence revolves entirely around Himself.
If such a God were to create a universe, would He make a world of people where it’s all about family, community, and relationships? Would He come up with the idea of something called marriage, where two lives merge and live together as one? Would He establish love as the supreme virtue?
It is highly improbable.
Would He give us the capacity for humor and enjoyment and laughter?
Would it ever occur to Him to become human and to share His glory with us?
It would never cross His mind.
If the Solitary Deity had created us it would be to obtain service and worship. It would be all about His supremacy and our subservience; He would be king and we would be servants. It is not people and relationships that would interest Him but compliance. This God would demand that we bow and obey—you get with the program or you’re in big trouble.
That’s the kind of universe we would expect from the all-powerful Unaccompanied Boss.
You end up with a heavenly Hitler.
But … what if this God were actually a Trinity: a community of love and goodness and creativity and joy? What if this Divine Being were made up of a Father and a Son who love each other with eternal passion in the abounding fellowship of the Spirit? His creative activity would be entirely different, would it not?
We would envisage such a God to make a world where people experience the joys of marriage and family and friendship, and where love is valued as supreme. A realm where there is joy and goodness and beauty and wonder. A planet of sunsets, strawberries, butterflies, waterfalls, roses, and hummingbirds.
Such a God would create people in His image in order to lavish upon them His love and goodness. And it would not be surprising that, if things went awry, He would respond in mercy and compassion, and, if necessary, act sacrificially to rescue His creation.
It is also conceivable that this Divine Community of love would go a step further and invite humans to be part of His family as sons and daughters.
A totally different scenario develops when we have a Father- Son-and-Spirit God, instead of a Celestial Caesar. The Trinity is more than just another item in the creed. It is bedrock truth about God that radically transforms the whole story.
The Solitary Deity ends up looking a whole lot like a Middle Eastern deity who rewards suicide bombers and terrorists with heaven.
The Triune God ends up looking like Jesus giving His life for His enemies on a cross.
This is the God Jesus made known to us—the stunningly beautiful God of overflowing love and joy, who is Father, Son, and Spirit.
–J. O. Schulz, What Jesus Wished People Knew About God