Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cultivating our Connection with God

Paul hints at two, powerful and interconnected ideas in 1 Thessalonians 1:1. For me, this taps into what is central and foundational to all of Paul’s thinking and ministry. He taught them their Triune origins as an ancient/new launching point for their thoughts and actions. It’s Paul’s shorthand description for what he later elaborates in Ephesians chapters 1-3.


First, "What is God like?"

He is a relational Community, delighted to connect the “seed” of His life-giving presence with His people to participate together as partners.

In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:1).

Coming to know God in a growing way is a lifelong process, both a joy and a challenge. I see the generous outpouring of God’s goodness and His greatness standing prominently as mountain peaks of His Being. And God has always existed eternally as a Community in relationship, Father, Son and Spirit. He has always been Community, mutually relating and caring as the original “small group” or “primal group.”

God is not a lonely or selfish God. Since He is the “Community-God,” He has been giving and receiving mutual love since before time, relational at His core. God made us in this image and initiates to draw us home into His presence. He finds great pleasure to adopt us into His Forever Family since relationship stands center-stage. Notice how family focused this letter is.


Have you ever wondered why God chose to create?

Our Team-of-Three decided to flood earth with other relational beings like themselves, created in His image of unique personalities in community. He yearned to multiply joy and love by extending their own life-releasing relationship and intrinsic goodness. Above all else, abandon yourself as a living sacrifice to this Community-God. For me, beginning with God and His eternal plan brings coherence to the whole.

Though our minds are stunned as we try to grasp the Trinity, this does not mean that we cannot experience the Father, Son and Spirit as Triune God, like the Thessalonian believers did within a few brief weeks. In this short letter, Paul reinforces and expands what the team had taught during their short stay. This essential, relational view of God weaves its way through this entire letter to these new converts … and it’s contagious. Any other view of God impoverishes our lives.


Paul does not describe abstract traits of a distant God. 

No, instead He emphasizes the very presence of this relational God initiating to love, support and empower among them in this faith-community. How much more intimate can it get than to be “in” the Father and Son? There, “in Him,” they experienced an abundant supply of what life is really like, eternal life, Trinitarian life.

These new believers experienced God as Plurality (Father and Son) as they turned to His presence in the good, bad and ugly of life. In Christ, they experienced the same co-love and mutual giving that the Father and Son experienced with each other. Elsewhere in Scripture, this relationship God has with His people is described as that of a Groom/Husband with His Bride/Wife.


Note the Trinity as you read 1 Thessalonians. Not so much to fully grasp, but to delight in.

The Father is the Living and True God, who shows us our worth and comes alongside in tough times. We live our lives to please Him alone. He actually does for us what He calls us to. 

The Son rescues us from the coming judgment. Through His death and resurrection, He provides life to us who were hopelessly separated from Him. He releases faith, love and hope so we stand firm in trials, living out of His abundant grace (His spiritual resources). 

The Spirit releases power for witnessing, makes Scripture come alive with joy and insight in tough times, helps us make moral choices, and also provides the “fire” to release growth in community.


From start to finish,

these new believers experienced the relational Trinity as they responded to His initiative (I call our choices “transforming responses”). So must we respond to God’s caring initiative today. We thrive through this relational connection with the “Community-God.”

Second, "How does this God see and know me?"

This Community-God designed and re-created us to relate with Him and with each other as the people of His presence. The God revealed in the New Testament is no uncaring, distant God. His generous, initiating first-love makes the difference. We are fully satisfied, intimate allies on His epic adventure.
“The glory of God is mankind fully alive” (Saint Irenaeus).
For more on how this relational Trinity impacts our every day lives, please go to my website: 

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