At What’s Brewing recently the guest speakers were talking about unmanned aircraft. These aircraft are a couple of feet in diameter with arms coming out from the center. At the end of each arm is a small motor and rotor blade. They look like a flying crab with a helicopter blade at the end of their arms.
Companies are trying to figure out how to use them for making deliveries. (I’ll admit, I think this would be an awesome way to bring communion to our church members who are homebound). The challenge for these aircraft lies with the engineering; how to keep them from crashing into other things. It’s creating a market for “sense and avoid” technology.
This “sense and avoid” lies behind Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...20” (Matthew 28:19).
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is also known as the Trinity; it’s a tough subject to tackle. Often the best way to understand something comes by taking it apart. Let’s begin by looking at what might happen if we baptized people only in the name of the Father. That denies the work of Jesus Christ reconciling us with God, and also the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit. God is powerful, but it also makes God detached. With too much distance between us and God, then God is reduced to an intellectual exercise or a contemplative pursuit.
If we baptized only in the name of Jesus, then that shortchanges God as Almighty, the maker heaven and earth; that part of God that is bigger than anything we can see or understand and is beyond our logic and reason. And again, it also denies the ongoing presence of God with us today in Holy Spirit.
What if we only said “I baptize you in the name of the Holy Spirit?” Well, we miss the awesomeness and creativity of God. We also miss God-in-human-flesh in the person of Jesus. We miss that part of God who rose from the dead to make us right with God in spite of our brokenness and sin – those times we did not “sense” God’s righteousness and we crashed into things that we didn’t “avoid.”
One out of three may be good for a baseball batting average, and two out of three good for voting, but when it comes to us as disciples imitating Jesus in order to shape the character of the world it requires the fullness of God we know through the Trinity.
Imagine Jesus standing before us, and preparing to send us out with these instructions: ”Go throughout Prineville and all of Crook County. One out of 6 families lives below poverty – make sure they have enough to eat. Guarantee your 27 hundred veterans are properly provided for. And you’ve got a lot of older folks living alone which makes them vulnerable...keep an close eye on them. Then in your spare time we still need a cure for cancer and there’s climate change and affordable housing and human trafficking and...”
It’s more than a monumental task, it is impossible for us to shape the character of this area and this world using only our own resources and abilities. The work of the church can come only from God’s outlandish investment of God in Jesus the Son and the willingness of the Son to be present always to the church in the Holy Spirit.
May we – as individuals, and as a church family, and as the Christian Church – “sense” the fullness of the Trinity so we “avoid” adding to the struggles we already face.
Together We Serve,