“Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” 2 Corinthians 13:11
Instant gratification is what is wanted now. People don’t want to work at things; they don’t want to think; everything has to be dumbed down, made simple; to be complicated is likely to lead to being accused of being elitist.
Even the Church has gone down the path of laziness, not applying our minds to things, and dumbing things down; we think that if we make everything as simple as possible, then we will be more attractive. Except there are some things that can’t be dumbed down, and this Sunday is one of them.
Most days in the church year are about specific biblical events, about major points in the life of Jesus. Christmas is about his birth in Bethlehem. Epiphany recalls the visit of the wise men. Lent is a reminder of Jesus fasting forty days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry, Good Friday marks the horrific crucifixion of Jesus. Easter Day celebrates the joyful resurrection of Jesus. Ascension Day reminds us of Jesus going bock to heaven to reign at his Father’s side. Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill Christ’s people with the power of God. We can pick up our Bibles and we can read the Scriptural accounts of each of these events.
Today is different. Today is about God the Holy Trinity. Today is not about something you can point to, something you can put your finger on. Today is not about an event that can be described or a story that can be told. Today is about God, and God doesn’t fit in with the way people think, never has and never will.
We live at a time when intellectual laziness and dumbing down seem to be the universal trend. The television and the newspapers want to make everything simple when even readers of the worst tabloids know that there are many things in life that are not simple at all.
One of the problems Christians have with the media is that God cannot be simplified. God is not simple – no matter how hard you try you cannot make God fit into the simple terms of a newspaper headline. All the words in the dictionary only start to explain God.
Trinity Sunday reminds us once a year that God is not like anything or anyone we can imagine. God cannot be fitted into the mental capacities of the human brain. We can use all the terms from mathematics and geometry and science and philosophy; we can take all the ideas from art and from literature; we can take all of human knowledge and put it together and we would still not have God.
‘Aim for perfection’, says Saint Paul, writing to the Christians in Corinth in this morning’s Epistle, and for a man with a powerful intellect like Paul, aiming for perfection would mean that we do serious thinking. Paul would want us to try to think about God, intimidating as such a thought is to us.
Aiming for perfection can give us a headache! When we come to church, when we try to understand the confusing things that all of us encounter from time to time, when we reach those moments in life when we ask what on earth this life is about, we are dealing with things we cannot cope with. It’s like trying to imagine the whole universe and then trying to think about what’s beyond it.
It is not in the spirit of our time to think about such things. We do not like what we cannot control. We do not wish to imagine things we cannot understand. The Bible is a disturbing book for our times because it doesn’t allow any possibility that people can control this world. The writers of the Bible acknowledge God as God. They do not attempt to describe him, nowhere do they sit down and say, ‘God is this, this and this’. Instead we get just tiny glimpses.
Belief in God in the Bible comes as a consequence of the facts of the experience of God in their lives. If we are to follow the way of the Bible, we have to argue for God from our own experience. No-one can reason another person into belief. God cannot be crammed into human reason or argument. All we can do is to present what we know and allow people to decide for themselves.
The idea of God is not something which will fit into any explanation we can give. God is God, he is who he is, he cannot be controlled, he cannot be simplified, he most certainly cannot be dumbed down.
This day, this Trinity Sunday, this day when we remember God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, prompts us at least once in a year to think about God as he is. In a world where laziness is a sign of the times we live in, it is not for Christians to go down that path, instead we need to listen to Paul’s instruction to us ’aim for perfection’.