For your reflection in the midst of Holy Week and in the days which follow:
God created us to share in this relationship (between the Father and the Son) and gave us a share in the communion of the Trinity at creation. This is the primary thing that we lost through the Fall. God’s promise after the Fall, around which one may organize the entire history and teaching of the Old Testament, was ultimately a promise that the Son of God would come to bring human beings back into a share in the communion of the Trinity. In fulfillment of this promise, God the Son personally entered human life by becoming man while remaining God, and in his human life he showed us both God’s love and perfect human love. At his crucifixion, God the Son bore in his own person our estrangement from God; as man he was crushed by our sin, and as man he was forsaken in our place by his own Father. Through his resurrection and ascension, he was restored as man to the fellowship of the Trinity which he had always shared as God, and in the process he opened the way for people who are united to him by faith to be restored to fellowship with the Trinity as well.Â The Holy Spirit, whom the Father and the Son sent to earth, dwells in believers, uniting us to the Son and thus granting us the participation in the Father-Son relationship that became possible through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Through the Spirit, Christian are called to live — both individually and as the church — so as to anticipate the time when God will transform the entire created world and bring his dwelling here to be with his people for eternity.
All of this implies that fundamentally, our task as Christians is not to aspire to some higher or better world, either though our own efforts or with God’s help. The effort we put into Christian life is not our attempt to achieve something we do not already have, because God has already given us a share in the Son’s relationship to the Father. We are already daughters and sons of God, and we are called to live like sons and daughters by reflecting the relationship of the true Son to his Father. Furthermore, the better world is not some other world than this, but it will be this world itself once God transforms it by removing the effects of sin, restoring it to its pristine glory and even bringing his own dwelling place down into it. As a result, this is where human life ultimately finds its significance. The way life is meant to be is tied to four great realities: who God is as Trinity of loving persons, how God created the world and humanity within it, how God has redeemed fallen humanity, and how God will transform the world and the lives of his adopted children in eternity. Christian life looks up to the Father-Son relationship, back to both creation and redemption, and ahead to the culmination of history, and this web of participation, reflection and anticipation provides the context in which we understand the details of Christian life and recognize their significance. Life as God has always had it, and life as it was meant to be for people, will one day become life as it is for believers. We are called to participate in, reflect and anticipate that life.” — Donald Fairbairn, Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 232-233.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!