And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you will know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. [John 14:16-17 (NLT)]
Ever since my college roommate showed me one, I’ve been fascinated by the Möebius strip. To make one, take a paper strip, give it a single twist and tape the ends together to form a loop. Now, draw a line down the middle of this strip, starting at a seam. It will meet back at the seam, but on the other side of the paper. If you continue drawing the line, it would then meet at the starting point (and be double the length of the original strip). This single continuous line demonstrates that the Möebius strip has only one boundary or surface. If that explanation wasn’t clear, picture an ant crawling along the length of the twisted and taped strip. He would return to his starting point having traversed every part of the strip without ever crossing an edge. Basically, something that looks as if it has two sides (and was made by a piece of paper that did), actually has only one surface or side.
To further confuse the matter, if you cut this once-twisted piece of paper down the center line, you’ll end up with one long strip that now has two twists and two surfaces. If you cut that strip again, you end up with two intertwined strips and it gets more confusing after that! There are all sorts of algebraic and geometric explanations for this simple but remarkable piece of paper. In fact, the B.F. Goodrich Company patented a conveyor belt in the form of a Möebius strip that supposedly lasts twice as long as a conventional belt (which makes some sense to me). After that, however, I don’t understand any of the other technical applications of the Möebius strip in physics, music, engineering and chemistry. Fortunately, I’m not a mathematician or scientist, so I don’t need to comprehend or explain it. All I really need to know is what happens when I take a strip of paper, give it a single twist and tape it together!
For me, the Holy Trinity is a bit like the Möebius strip. I know it exists, but I’m not quite sure how. The Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Spirit is God. But wait— the Father is neither Holy Spirit nor Son; the Son is neither Holy Spirit nor Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither Father nor Son. God is one in essence but has three united persons in that essence. That’s actually more confusing than the Möebius strip! I know the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are there—I can even see them work in my life. Yet, how can be there one in three and three in one? While it’s complex and puzzling, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real! I have only a vague understanding of how this miraculous Triune God can exist and I certainly can’t explain it clearly to others. Fortunately, I’m not a theologian, so I don’t have to! Like the Möebius strip, all I really have to do is know it to be true!
I tell you the solemn truth, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so difficult to accept for a working proposition as any one of the axioms of physics. [Henry Brooks Adams]
Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God. [John Wesley]