God is love.
I don’t remember who first introduced me to the idea of the Triune Community of Love and Communication that existed before the beginning (biblically speaking), but it was probably Francis Schaeffer. But I also remember John Ortberg teaching about this at Willow several years ago. Of course, any real knowledge of this is miniscule, obviously, but when I first encountered this idea, it seemed like an important piece.
In the beginning God created…And the Spirit of God hovered over the waters…Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone-
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
So here’s the picture, roughly put. Divinity, the Divine, expressed in a triune layering of (as Dorothy Sayers would say) Idea (Father), Energy (Son), and Power (Spirit). God the Father, His Word that would later take flesh and be known as Jesus, the Christ, and God’s Spirit, existing in an eternal relationship (outside of time, before time–which doesn’t work, because “before time” is a troublesome phrase, there being no “before” in a time-less state) of love and communication. As Doug Collier pointed out this past week at family camp, Job 38 seems to suggest that at some point there then emerged a created order that included the angelic beings, so that as God began the creation of the heavens and the earth, the angels were “watching,” shouting for joy. (This is obviously open to debate.)
The point is this: whatever emerges from that which was from before the beginning, if scriptural descriptions of the character of God are to be believed, emerges from a state of relationship and community between eternal beings whose essence is love, relationship, communication, life, creativity, and joy. Pick a descriptor: freedom, potential, power, perfection, greatness, holiness, awesome glory…this is the Community of Glory that was from before the beginning.
Why does this matter? It matters because it deeply informs what comes next. When God decides to create, as is true when any of us decide to create, that creation will be deeply connected to who and what we are, and our character will in some fashion be revealed in the work that exists at the end of the creative process. And while the reasons for the decision to create are veiled, it seems reasonable to me to make some conjectures that, to me, are extremely helpful in thinking about why in the world we are here.
So why would this Triune God decide to end the time-less, perfect state of being, and make a world? And when He did, what would the created work tell us about the nature and character of this Triune Community?
Tomorrow: “Let there be Light”
Here’s a question: why create anything?