God is a relational God. Have you ever considered the relational language which is used to talk about God? God lives as Father, Son, and Spirit. A father is not a father unless there is a son. Similarly, a son is not a son unless there is a father.
The language of three-in-one is difficult to understand. But rather than treating it like a difficult math problem (how can one thing be three things?) it’s probably better to understand the concept in light of relationships. The Father and Son are in relationship with one another. And, the Son, who speaks with authority from the Father (Jn 12:49), said that the Spirit would be involved in bringing the disciples into the family. Consider the following verses from the Gospel of John.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (Jn 14:10).
“even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (Jn 14:17).
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:20-21).
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (Jn 17:20-23).
The church is not a building. Nor is it a political power. Nor is it some sort of abstract concept. When you really boil it down, the church is relationships—relationships with one another which help us grow in our relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Just as the Father and Son are one, we are to be one, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).
I read something recently which dealt with the power of relationships. The author said that each person needs at least 8 hugs a day for the brain and body to be as healthy as possible. There has also been research which suggests that seeing a picture of a friend can have a similar physiological effect as a hug. This being the case, the use of social media might actually have some health benefits when used correctly (but hugging a human being is still better than hugging a cell phone). Simply put, we are created to be in community.
The word community refers to having things in common. We all have some things in common—it might be the music we listen to, the hobbies we enjoy, or the places we like to go. But ultimately, as the church, our sense of commonality is found in our relationship with God. The church assembles together as a community of believers who have been brought into the family of God. Let’s not take that for granted.