Bumblebees, Cherries, and Trinities, Both Divine and Human – Trinity Sunday

This Jesus God raised up, of which we are all witnesses.  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He poured Him out – which you now see and hear.    [Acts 2:32-33]

Probably you have seen something like this, or heard something like this before – but it makes a good point, especially today:

According to the theory of aerodynamics and as may be readily demonstrated through wind tunnel experiments, the bumblebee is unable to fly.  This is because the size, weight and shape of his body in relation to the total wingspread make flying impossible.
But the Bumblebee, being ignorant of these scientific truths, goes ahead and flies anyway – and makes a little honey every day.

Scientists shake their heads in wonder at the bumblebee, because everything is wrong.  The body should be shaped differently, the wings should be larger, the weight should be less.  Now you take a “yellow-jacket” wasp, and it fits what man can comprehend far better than the bumblebee.  Yet the bumblebee defies all of man’s accumulated wisdom and flies on from one flower to the next.

There is something else which is just as humbling to mankind as the reality of the bumblebee, and which we celebrate today, which is the feast of the Holy Trinity.  This also taxes man’s accumulated wisdom and understanding: how can God be three distinctly different Persons, yet one God, not three Gods?

Many have struggled with explaining the concept of the Trinity.  A very common symbol has been the equilateral triangle, each side being the same length as the others, and each side equally as necessary as the others otherwise the triangle collapses.  St Patrick, on the other hand, used a three-leaf clover.  So also has an egg been used, with its shell, white and yolk.  Water has been used because of its three states, vapor, ice and water.  And there have been a variety of other examples.

But did you know that perhaps the best example of a trinity is you yourself?  At least, the Bible indicates that you are!  Oh, it doesn’t come right out and say it with those words – the same as it doesn’t say in so many words that God is a Trinity.  But God has left evidences of His and our trinities in the Bible.  For instance, in regard to us you may be familiar with St Paul’s blessing in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then there is also the passage in I Corinthians 15:44-46, where Paul sets up a contrast between what has been translated as the “NATURAL” body and the “spiritual” body, as he talks about how these bodies that give us so much trouble here on earth will be changed to be like Jesus’ eternal resurrection body.  The word translated as “NATURAL” is actually the word “soul” in adjective form which does not exist in English.  If we were to coin such an adjective form, then the passage would read something like this:

It is sown a “soulish” body, it is raised a spiritual body.  If there is a “soulish” body, there is also a spiritual body. … The spiritual did not come first, but the “soulish,” and after that the spiritual.

Some have thought that soul and spirit were the same thing, but then the contrast Paul makes would be nonsense.  However, if they are different, then just what are the differences between the human’s “body, soul and spirit”?

Of these three, the Body is pretty obvious.  That’s what everyone can see. There really shouldn’t be much to explain about that part of us.

However, we also know that the Body can be alive …, or dead.  Science tries to tell us that life is merely chemical reactions, but that just is not enough.  In a dead body there also are chemical reactions, in fact, the chemicals are doing what they would naturally do when left by themselves, but we call this “decay.”  No, there is something that forces these chemicals to go in an opposite direction from their natural tendency.  We call this “something” life.

The Frankenstein movie demonstrated the idea that electricity is supposed to be the “spark of life,” however years ago my family had a hotdog cooker where the hotdog was pushed on to two different electrodes and then the lid was closed.  The hotdog cooked, sometimes it even exploded, but nothing ever became alive.  No, life is far greater than merely chemical reactions, more than mere electricity in the body.

“Life” is what the Bible calls the “soul” – in fact, often “living” and “soul” are linked together, and sometimes the word for “soul” is simply translated as “life” [for example, Leviticus 17:11].  Within the soul are mental abilities, emotions, passions, and many other things which make each living creature what it is.  But “soul” is not unique to the human. Of the twelve times that “living soul” appears in the first three books of the Bible [Genesis 1:20,21,24,30; 2:7,19; 9:10,12,15,16; Leviticus 11:10,46], only one refers to a human, when Genesis 2:7 states “Jehovah God … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Adam became a living soul.”
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So if the “soul” does not mark the difference between man and animal, what does?  The difference is described in the words just quoted, “Jehovah God … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”  Adam was to bear the very breath of God – it is something that comes out of God Himself; it is a remarkably intimate relationship with God, a relationship of spirit.  This is the most difficult part of the human to describe because sin’s most destructive effect has been in this area, on the human’s relationship with God.

God had created mankind to be in His image.  Just like a picture can have the image of someone we love, creation was to look at humans and find a recognizable image of God.  In us He has left what should be all kinds of clues – glimpses – of Himself, glimpses of His Glory, His goodness, His Covenant relationship, His grace and mercy, His steadfast love and forgiveness, and His justice.  We were to be marked with the stamp of God Himself.

But this spiritual side was mostly destroyed and distorted when mankind fell into sin, and to describe it now is like when aviation investigators try to reconstruct an airplane crash from the shattered pieces strewn all over the place.   Perhaps in the spiritual side resides creativity, ingenuity, artistry and the sense of beauty; but definitely it has prayer, spiritual insight, the awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and possibly also such things as the conscience, sin-sickness, awareness of guilt, and other such traits.

Consider the awesome coordination between body and soul.  Your mind gets an idea to reach for a pencil, but your mind cannot do it by itself.  We do not understand just how, but somehow the message gets from the soul to the body, and it reaches over and picks up the pencil!  The coordination is seamless: two very different parts – soul and body, each having its unique area of ability, work together without even an awareness where the soul leaves off and the body begins.

So, if the body is hungry and grows faint, the great words of wisdom which the soul is speaking may not make much sense. Even in a spiritual activity such as praying, generally the mind and the body are involved.  Who knows where one part leaves off and another part begins – all we know is simply that we are one – all three parts are one.

In this frail human material is the image of the Great Creator of the universe in the full wonder of His three Persons.  Still this is only an INKLING of what the Divine Trinity is like.  The human body, soul, and spirit are not separate PERSONS as God has; yet He is one God, with a seamless unity between His three very different Persons, so that no matter what the event, all are involved – all were involved when the universe was created; all were there when Jesus did miracles and when Jesus was raised from the dead; all were there when you were baptized; all were there when the words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [Hebrews 13:5] were pronounced.

We come now, though, in the same kind of humility as when we are confronted by the bumblebee: we have evidence that trinities, both Divine and human, exist.  We have glimpsed the great wonder of the God we worship, the majestic Three-in-One that describes the God Who would create, Who would save, Who would lead His People into life everlasting; Who would give of Himself to death, yet never interrupting His rule of the universe; Who would so love you and me that it takes three Persons of the Godhead to fully describe just how much love is poured out upon us.

We understand – no, not really can we understand just how all this works, especially on the God-level.  But then, after all, WE are the product of HIS imagination, not the reverse, and He is far beyond any of us.  Still, how essential is this Trinity: we need the Father Who takes care of creation and us; we need Jesus, God the Son, as Savior and Lord, Who guarantees to us, not some chance for eternal life, but rather His own life – forever; and we need the Holy Spirit Who is that bridge between God and us, something we need even more so than ever because our own spiritual side has been so destroyed by sin.

The realization of the Trinity is that God is just too great to be limited!  This then opens the door to all sorts of other wonderful blessings and benefits – it is here where all the Bible’s promises, blessings and benefits increase to their vast greatness.  And only now do we find ourselves in a similar position to the young boy in a favorite story of mine:

A mother went shopping with her small son. In the store, the grocer invited the lad to a handful of cherries, but the boy seemed very shy.    “Don’t you like cherries?” asked the grocer.
“Yes, sir!” said the boy.
The grocer put his hand in and dumped a generous portion in the little fellow’s cap which he had promptly held out.  Later, his mother asked him why he had not taken the cherries when first invited.
She quickly received the answer, “‘Cause his hand was bigger’n mine.”

The doctrine of the Trinity allows God to have such a larger hand with which to bless us than could ever be available if He were merely the product of what we could understand.  So, come, let us more than adore Him – let us truly be that image of Him which He created us to be, which the world all around needs to see, that reflection which He re-created us to be.

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