The Trinity: worth suffering for?
February 28, 2013
The Bible teaches that we were created in the image of God, so we have personhood and our personhood reflects the nature of God. We are not only individuals but we also are a part of families and communities. We are designed to live in community because God is like that.
Along with this question is the question of unity and diversity. In what way are we, as humans, unified in our diversity? God is the answer to that question as well. "Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers" (Francis Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent, 14). Our experience in community should be one of mutuality and interaction. We have significant relationships with others from the time of our birth where we learn to be social. In a positive community experience we support each other and build each other up. Jesus said that he and the Father were one—they were distinct but perfectly identified with each other. In theology, the term perichoresis has become popular again. It was first used by the Church Fathers to express the relationship of the Persons of the Triune God. Each Person maintains individuality while sharing in the lives of the other two. It is a fascinating idea. It is more popularly known as the community of being.
This idea of community is apparently behind Paul's description of the church as the body of Christ, where there is a diversity of parts but one body. Each part has its unique, individual function but it works in conjunction with and for the benefit of the other parts. When one part suffers, we all suffer. If one part is honored, we all rejoice.
There are those in the world who will consider our belief in the Trinity heresy, blaspheming and irreverent. They become especially hostile when we declare that Jesus is God, one with the Father. There is an amazing description of who the second Person of the Trinity is in Colossians chapters 1and 2. As wonderful as this passage is we may have to suffer persecution for believing it and witnessing to it. Christ is "the fullness of the Deity in bodily form" and is "the head over every power and authority." Some will be offended by the first phrase and others will contest the second phrase by saying that their power is greater than Jesus. Some are so offended and threatened by these words that they may be willing to kill Christians. It teaches that Christ is God, the Second Person of the Trinity and not just a "teacher" or "prophet." He is the only One to whom we give our ultimate allegiance and loyalty.
That raises the question: "Are you willing to suffer for the Trinity?" It is more than a theological term—it is the truth. It is essential truth that is necessary for a correct understanding of reality. If martyr is defined as someone who will hold the truth in spite of "the assaults of persecution" (Martin Luther) and death, then we are all potential martyrs if we believe in the Trinity. The Trinity is not only worth suffering for but dying for as well.
For more discussion on the Trinity, visit www.vomclassroom.com and check out the information on persecution and its role in the mission of God.
Roy Stults, PhD, is the Online Workshop Coordinator and Educational Services Coordinator for The Voice of the Martyrs. He graduated from Olivet Nazarene University (BA and MA), Nazarene Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Doctor of Missiology), and The University of Manchester (England) with a PhD (theology). A Vietnam veteran, Dr. Stults served as a missionary for 19 years and pastored U.S. churches for eight years. Prior to joining VOM, he was a Professor of Religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.