Catch the Current
The Trinity as Divine Team
In this instance of affirmation, Jesus immediately defers the honor to his Father; he shines the spotlight straightly and swiftly upon him. "I assure you that the Son can't do anything by himself except what he sees the Father doing." Once again, Jesus turns to the team, the Divine Team, and shares the glory.
Perhaps most fascinating of what I call the Spotlight Scriptures is the time shortly before Jesus' arrest and crucifixion when he is preparing his disciples for the coming great changes. He informs them that he is going to be leaving, but that another member of the Divine Team will be coming and filling in for him:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can't receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you (Jn. 14:15-17 CEB).
True to form, Jesus is introducing another member of the Divine Team who will be coming to fill in while he is gone. He shines the light on the Spirit of God, honoring the person and relational role ("Companion") that he will fill in the lives of the disciples.
But he does something more, perhaps something that even more so reveals how much value honoring is within the Godhead. Look at how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit, how he helps the disciples to know it is him when he appears:
But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you" (Jn. 16:12-14 MSG, emphasis mine).
Did you catch it? In essence, Jesus was shining the spotlight on the Spirit, honoring him and, then telling his disciples how they will know when the Spirit arrives. Jesus says that the Spirit will not speak about himself but will remind them about Jesus and all that he has taught them. In other words, when the Spirit comes, here's how you will know it is him: He won't be talking about himself, but will be holding a big spotlight and shining on Jesus and on his words. The Spirit is another member of the Divine Team, the Ultimate Honoring Circle.
The doctrine of the Trinity, then, is not merely some transcendent and lofty truth tucked away on the top shelf of theology; it is vibrant and practical and exemplary to our experience of faith today. It reveals much about God's life with us and our lives with each other.
The Trinity is, in fact, a community or communion of Persons. The Trinity, then, is the Divine Team—the one we should seek to emulate and follow in all our faith communities, families, and teams.
Note: This column is adapted from a new book by Robert Crosby, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). An excerpt from the book is available at the Ministry Matters site.
Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of YouVersion.com (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today—The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel.
Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). Crosby's column, "Catch the Current," is published every other Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.