Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 28:19 (NLT)]
Last year my eldest grand took advanced calculus. I could neither understand what she was doing nor the purpose in doing it (other than gaining entrance into a good university). This year she is taking something called Discrete Math, the definition of which leaves me in the dust. Apparently used in computer science, I didn’t even know that numbers could be discrete. Fortunately, I’m not the one taking SATs and making application to colleges so I don’t need to make sense of her difficult curriculum.
As confusing and difficult to explain as Calculus and Discrete Math is the concept of the Holy Trinity. Although my grand has to fully understand the concepts taught in her math classes, I don’t have to completely comprehend the Trinity to believe in it (which is good since the Trinity can seem as confusing as algorithms, algebraic combinatorics, and hypergraph theory.)
While various analogies are often used to describe the Holy Trinity, none seem to work completely. The Trinity has been compared to an egg with its three parts: yolk, white and shell. Although each is part of the same egg, the analogy fails because none of the three are the egg themselves. All three distinct parts of the Trinity are God rather than just part of Him. Others analogies compare the Trinity to water with its three properties of liquid, solid (ice) and vapor or steam. Although they all are water, the analogy fails since the same water can’t be all three at the same time. God, however, is Father, Son and Holy Spirit simultaneously. In previous devotions, I’ve compared the Trinity both to a chef’s mirepoix and the three dimensions of a book; while close, they weren’t perfect either.
While viewing a waterfall recently, I remembered an analogy used by one of my pastors. Picture yourself standing at the foot of a beautiful and powerful waterfall. You look up to the top. You can’t see the river that is the source of the water and yet you know it is there. The river, the source, is like God the Father. Then you look ahead and see the water pouring down over the rocks. The water you can see is Jesus (the Son who comes from God). Finally, you feel the spray on your face, breathe it in through your mouth and nose, and the water becomes part of you. That mist is the Holy Spirit.
The doctrine of the Trinity is central to our Christian faith. God is one being who exists as three coexistent, equal, eternal and divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. While they are all God, none of the three are any of the others. The Father is not the Son or Spirit; the Son is not the Father or Spirit, and the Spirit is neither Father nor Son. That we can’t fully comprehend this incredible phenomenon is understandable. God is God and we are not and His ways are beyond our limited human understanding. Nevertheless, just because I can’t understand calculus or discrete math doesn’t mean they are false or nonexistent and just because I can’t quite grasp the concept of a Triune God doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist either. His power and presence are not dependent upon my understanding. After all, this is the God who created a vast universe from nothing and scattered countless stars across the sky; fashioned everything from elephants to dragonflies and redwoods to roses; and understands theoretical astrophysics, nanotechnology, quantum physics, calculus and discrete math. Being three in one is probably child’s play to our omnipotent Triune God. Praise Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!