Theologian J.I. Packer once wrote that, “The historic formulation of the Trinity…seeks to circumscribe and safeguard this mystery (not explain it; that is beyond us), and it confronts us with perhaps the most difficult thought the human mind has ever been asked to handle. It is not easy; but it is true”.
So what does a “mystery” that is beyond complete mortal comprehension and arguably “the most difficult thought the human mind has ever been asked to handle” have to do with friendship?
Think about it. Every human heart possesses deep longings. We long to show dignity and be shown dignity. We long to love and be loved. We long to communicate and be communicated to. We long to be a friend and have friends. We long to know and be known.
We’re longing for heaven and unhindered relationship with God, yet we are far east of Eden.
However, despite the brokenness of humanity, those longings are woven into the fabric of our humanity. The desire for dignity, love, communication, friendship, and deep knowing, are a personal longing for the Triune God of the Bible and a world that reflects the Trinity’s perfect community.
It has been said that the Triune God of the Bible is a “Friend who has Friends.” The Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in a perfect community of dignity, love, communication, friendship, deep knowing and selflessness.
This truth sets a new precedence for friendship.
At one point in my life I wasn’t a great friend. I loved the idea of being a lone-ranger. Struggling internally, yet portraying an air of stability and confidence. I loved knowing others, but not allowing others to fully know me. I enjoyed serving others, but deeply struggled with being served.
I unsuccessfully fought against the Triune fingerprints on my heart. No one is meant to live in isolation. We are and will always be persons in community.
Others of us live oppositely. We idolize friendship and community only to be repeatedly disappointed. We place undue pressure on our friends to satisfy eternal longings that were only to be meant to be satisfied in the midst of a personal relationship with the Triune God of the Scriptures.
Our Trinitarian God graciously leads us away from isolation or idolization of friendship into Trinitarian-centered friendship.
The doctrine of the Trinity allows us to humbly accept the reality that we are to know and be known. It also allows us to view community in the correct light. We don’t have to idolize or demonize it because we are a people that can know God and are deeply known by Him; therefore, we can freely love and be loved by others.
My prayer is that with greater understanding of this complex doctrine, the people of God would strive to know God greater and to reflect his communal nature to the world. I pray that the people of God would be known as a community of dignity, love, humility, honest communication, friendship, deep knowing and selfless submission to one another.
I pray my friends would say that about me one day as well.
So again I ask, “What does ‘the most difficult thought the human mind has ever been asked to handle’ have to do with friendship”?