June 29, 2003
You know, it’s really fascinating to think about all the phone calls that a person receives during the day. I got a pretty wild phone call this Wednesday afternoon. My oldest daughter, who is 16 years of age, called me and she was kind of frantic — kind of freaking out. Instead of me telling you the story, you can watch it on video.
(Video of the snake in Ed’s garage)
All God’s creatures crave something. Some of us crave chocolate. Some here crave love. Maybe some here are craving a date. I think the Rangers are craving a win, don’t you? We all crave something. Why do we crave things? Why do we have these desires? What’s up with all the cravings? When you take all the cravings and boil them down, the source of these cravings might surprise you. It might put you back on your heels a little bit. The source of all of our cravings is the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — something we have been studying lately. As we understand more and more about the essence and the nature of the personality of God, we can understand ourselves on a deeper, and much more profound level than we ever thought possible. It’s all about, though, labeling and understanding cravings.
Let me talk to you about several cravings. The first craving is a craving that we all have. It’s the craving for unity. We yearn for unity. Why is it that we want unity and not dissonance? Why do we want togetherness and not chaos? “It’s just who we are,” you say. “It’s just woven into the very fabric and framework of human beings.” That’s true. But, the reason we have the yearning, and the reason we have this desire for unity, is because it’s woven into God’s heart and God’s personhood. Why do we want to lose ourselves in someone or something? Why do we have this desire for unity?
God is one in essence, we have been saying. Also, He is one in purpose. What does it mean when we say that God is one in essence? God’s essence simply means the nature of God — the stuff that makes God who he is. He is one in essence.
He is also one in purpose. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit create together. They rescue together. They move in concert together. They are perfectly cohesive.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Why do we have this yearning for unity? I just touched on it a second ago. Let’s get deeper.
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us (that’s the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) make man in our image (there’s the plurality of God again), in our likeness.”
Every time I have this desire for unity, I am simply mirroring the majesty of my maker. I am simply reflecting the Trinity. Every time I yearn for unity, cohesiveness and to move in concert with another person, I am mirroring the majesty of my maker – whether it is in a family, in a marriage, in a dating relationship, in the office, in the locker room, in the classroom, or whatever. I am saying, “Hey, I am tethered to the Trinity. I am made in the image of God. I am like the Trinity, and I am yearning for unity.” After all, mankind is a reflection of the Trinity. We have got our mind, our body and our soul — a shadow of the Trinity.
Genesis 2:24 talks about marriage, and that’s something pretty important. That’s something where we can see unity, and also dissonance. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother.” What’s the reason? The reason is unity. The verse continues, “…and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Isn’t that interesting? Thousands and thousands of couples walk down the wedding runner each and every day to experience this oneness, this unity. Many understand it and many don’t. But, it’s a Trinitarian yearning. Marriage — two becoming one flesh.
Think about sex. I woke some people up. Sex is a gift from God. Sex is a Trinitarian shadow — a Trinitarian illustration. God says, from Genesis to Revelation, that sex is reserved for the marriage bed. Sex is a multi-faceted thing. There is a spiritual aspect to it, a physical aspect to it, an emotional aspect to it, and a psychological aspect to it. We are made in the image of God. We are all unique. I am uniquely male and my wife, Lisa, is uniquely female. When a husband and wife join together in the act of marriage, and they make love in the context of marriage, you have the male character qualities and the female character qualities of God merging. That’s why when someone practices sex outside the marriage bed, they are trashing the Trinity. They are thumbing their noses at God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. If you are involved in sex outside of marriage, there is no way that God will bless your life. It’s not going to happen for you. If you are involved in sexual sin, your life will not hit on all cylinders. You will not discover what unity is all about. That’s why the Bible says, when it comes to sex, to keep a holy thing holy. Sex is for the marriage bed. It’s for a lifelong covenant and commitment together — one man and one woman reflecting the oneness of the Trinity.
Think about the family. We have got a lot of families here at Fellowship Church — single families, blended families, all sorts of families. Every time I talk to families they want to ask me this question, “Ed, how can we operate off of the same page? How do we get our family on the same page, on this unity thing? How do we get them really for it? How do we do it?”
Well, you have this desire as a father and mother from the Trinity. We want the unity because things that are unified work, don’t they? It’s amazing how children will try to divide and conquer their parents.
“Well, Mom, Dad said so and so.”
“Dad, Mom said so and so.”
That’s dissonance. That’s chaotic. That’s not unified. We are to be unified in the family dynamics.
Why do some of the guys here like sports? Why do some of the guys OD on ESPN?
“Well, guys are just competitive.”
Yeah, I know that. But, what is the real reason? I believe the real reason is that guys have a Trinitarian longing, they have a yearning for unity, and it’s expressed in sports. I have talked to a number of professional athletes, retired athletes. I have asked them, “What do you miss from your sport?” I’ve never had one say, “You know, I miss the millions.” They don’t say that. The first thing out of their mouths goes something like this, “You know, Ed, I miss the team. I miss the unity. I miss the cohesiveness.”
Hey, maybe you have played on a sand volleyball team. Maybe you played on a softball team, or basketball team, or flag football team. Maybe it was way back in junior high school, before you blew you knee out and ruined your professional career (that’s a joke). Maybe, just maybe guys, you are saying, “You know what? One time, our team was in the zone. All parts were working. We were unified. We were on the same page, we were all together and it was just great!” That desire, that smile on your face, that feeling is reflected in your life because of the Trinity.
Women love houses. Women love the space where they live. It’s just something about being a woman. Women will tell you, “Oh, if my house is a wreck, I feel like I am a wreck. If my house is out of whack, I feel like I’m out of whack.” You know, decorating and thinking about it all the time is a Trinitarian yearning, because you want unity in your home. It’s from the Trinity.
So, wherever we look — in the Board Room, at the school, in relationships — we yearn for unity. If there is not unity, we want it. The first craving is unity. We yearn for unity.
Now, the second craving is going to seem paradoxical. It’s also grounded, and it’s from the Trinity. At first glance, it will seem paradoxical. Not only do we yearn for unity, not only do we have that craving, but we have a second craving. We crave diversity. Diversity. We have this drive toward diversity.
“Well, Ed, that seems weird. On the one hand I want unity, and on the other hand I want diversity.”
No, it’s not. It’s not weird. Think about it. Go back to marriage. I am uniquely male. Lisa is uniquely female. I am unique. I am one of a kind. I have a unique thumbprint, a unique laugh, a unique look and so does Lisa. We are diverse, and yet, we are unified. You are the same way. We all love diversity. “Hey, man, I’m different and that’s good. I have a unique skill set, unique abilities.” That’s good. You like being unique, and you like that in other people because it’s a Trinitarian yearning, a Trinitarian illustration. Think about the Trinity. The three persons of the Trinity are unique and distinguished. In other words, the Father is not the Son. The Son is not Father. The Spirit is not the Father. They are unique — one in essence and three in persons. The Father does stuff that the Son doesn’t do. The Son does stuff the Father doesn’t do. And the Holy Spirit does stuff the Son doesn’t do. They are distinguished, unique, and one of a kind; yet, they move together in concert and there is a oneness.
John 1:3 says, “Through him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” Consider the creation. Do you want to see the uniqueness of the Trinity? Think about when God made the world. The Bible says the Father spoke things into existence. “Let there be light.” Boom — there was light. He did the creating. The Son accomplished the Father’s work. The Holy Spirit, the Bible says, hovered and moved over the creation. So you have got the creation, and the parts of the Trinity, the persons of the Trinity, active in their distinguished and unique roles.
Here is what James White said, “Difference in function doesn’t indicate inferiority of nature in the economy of God’s Trinity.”
That’s very important. “Difference in function doesn’t indicate inferiority of nature in the economy of God’s Trinity.”
Here is where the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons get sideways. Their founders could not understand this concept. Just because the Trinity is distinguished, and just because the Trinity has different functions, does not mean certain parts of the Trinity are inferior or superior to others. For example, the Son voluntarily submits himself, functionally, to the Father. It does not mean he is inferior. It’s just a function. The Holy Spirit voluntarily subordinates himself to the Father and the Son. It doesn’t mean he is inferior. They are all equal. They are all God. They all have the attributes of God.
The same is true in marriage. Many times, I functionally subordinate, or submit, myself to Lisa in her areas of expertise. She does the same with me. It doesn’t mean I’m superior and she is inferior, or she’s superior and I’m inferior. It just means, functionally, we have different roles. This is very important, because if this gets sideways, we can go off into Never Never Land.
John 14:26 says, “But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
We think about the role of the Trinity in creation. We also consider the Gospel, the Good News, the Message, and the life change mentioned throughout the pages of scripture. The different parts of the Trinity working in unity, yet they were diverse. The Father planned redemption. The Son did the work on the cross for your sins and mine. And the Holy Spirit actualizes our decisions through regeneration, sanctification and justification — all those “ation-type” words. The Holy Spirit did all this. It was the three parts of the Trinity working in concert together, yet they were, and are, diverse.
I want to read a very controversial text in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 11:3. I love controversial texts. I like to watch people squirm. Here we go, “Now I want you to realize that at the head of every man is Christ.” So far, you are saying, “That’s good. Jesus is God. He’s the head.” It continues, “And the head of the woman is man.”
“Wait a minute. Are you talking about the “s” word — the “submission” word?”
You better believe it. The verse says, “And the head of Christ is God.” Submission is not the “s” word. Friends, submission is a good thing because it is a God thing. The Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” How did he love the church? He loved it in a self-sacrificing way, in an unconditional way. That’s our goal, men. It’s pretty hefty.
“Well this, Ed, ‘Wives submit yourselves to your husbands?’”
It says that the head of the woman is the man.
You’re saying, “Wait a minute, Ed, are you telling me, through scripture now, that the man is superior and I’m inferior?”
No, I am not saying that. I’m saying in function. I’m saying in roles. God has given the man the leadership responsibility in the marriage. Many men have advocated this. Many men have cruised from it. Many men have just said, “Whoa, it’s just too much for me.” That’s a whole other message. But, I’m telling you based on scripture, the husband is the leader in the relationship. The word “husband” means house band. You are to keep the family and the marriage together. You are to lead out, husbands. You are to be the difference maker. You are to be the catalyst in the relationship, and when you love your wife like Christ loved the church, she will submit to you. She will defer to you.
The question is hanging out there right now is, “How in the world, Ed, can someone have unity and diversity? I mean, this thing is paradoxical. How? How? How can I have unity in my marriage, and yet diversity? How can I allow my husband to lead and let me be submissive? How does that work?”
Well, the word “submissive” means that we voluntarily — just like the Trinity — submit ourselves to a person’s leadership. It’s all about God’s chain of command. You want unity and diversity? It’s all about God’s chain of command. God is a God of order, not disorder. He is not a God of chaos. He is not capricious or cruel. God is a God of unity, a God of diversity, but a God of order. God always has a chain of command. In the family, you have a chain of command. Teenagers, your parents are the leaders in your family. You’re not. Now, that does not mean that you are not equal before God. But in role and function, your parents are the leaders in your family. If you want your life to really hit on all cylinders, then you better understand God’s chain of command, and put yourself within it. Wherever we work, there is a chain of command. It doesn’t mean that manager, that CEO, or that president is superior. Functionally, though, God’s chain of command is that he has placed that person in that position. You are to find your position in God’s chain of command. You will experience unity and diversity. The same is true about every place we can think about. It’s true in the church. It’s true in school. We’ve got to understand God’s chain of command in unity and diversity. As you look at your marriage, are you operating off of the same page? Are you moving in concert together? Do you understand your specific roles, and are you willing to submit yourself to the authority of each other in their areas of expertise?
A couple of days ago, Lisa and I were getting our hair cut. I was first. Lisa was second. A lady in our church, Arlene, is a great hair stylist and she cuts our hair. I was thinking to myself that my hair was really long. I said, “Arlene, I want my hair real short. I mean real short, because I am going to be fishing a lot. I’m going to be working out a lot outside, and I want short hair.”
She looked at me and said, “Ed, I appreciate that, but you know what? You don’t look that good with short hair.”
I said, “You know what, Arlene? You are right.”
She said, “I would rather cut your hair more frequently than just chop it all off at once.”
I said, “You know what? You’re right. Because, you know what? You are the expert.” I just said it. That’s God’s chain of command. Arlene and I have a great friendship. Lisa and Arlene have an excellent friendship. We are unified. We are diverse. But, at the end of the day, I trust Arlene when it comes to my hair. I submit myself functionally to her expertise. We are equal but I submit myself. That whole thing is from the Trinity — unity, diversity — diversity, unity. We are all unique. We are all different. And that’s a good thing, because it is a God thing.
There’s one more craving we better look at when it comes to the Trinity — the craving for equality. You’ve got unity, diversity and equality. We are eager for equality. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal. We play on a level playing field.
Our skin weighs five pounds. Can you believe that? It only weighs five pounds. Yet, why do so many people struggle with racism? We lose our minds over five pounds of skin . We kill people over it. We dis people over it. It shouldn’t be. Racism is a sin before God. What if we dissed others, or killed others because they were five pounds overweight? “Hey, man, you are five pounds overweight! Hey, woman, you are five pounds overweight! You make me sick. I hate you! You blankety blank.” Wouldn’t that be just sick? That’s what we are doing with racism. Five pounds. That’s what skin weighs. Yet, we lose our minds over it. Everybody is equal.
How about snobbery? You’ve got the “haves” snobbing out the “have nots.”
[Ed sticks his nose in the air and acts “snobby.”]
“Yes. No, thank you. Yes, I live over there and drive this and wear that. Thank you very much!”
That’s your typical picture of snobbery — the “haves” snobbing out the “have nots.” But, there is another aspect of snobbery most of us don’t talk about — the “have nots” snobbing out the “haves.” Hello? The “have nots” walk into the “haves’” house.
[Again, Ed acts “snobby.”]
“Must be nice! Some day. I’d look like that too if I had a personal trainer and had this….”
Is that a joke? Let’s face it. God blesses certain people in certain ways. Some people here have a big old honking pile of stuff. Good for you. God bless you. You are rich. That’s great. Good for you. Others here have a medium size pile of stuff. Good for you. God bless you. That’s great — a medium pile. Others have a little itty bitty pile of stuff. Good for you. God bless you. Some here don’t know where the pile is. Think about money and possessions. You only have them for two or three decades, and then we die. I’ve never seen a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse, anyway. We are born with nothing and we take out nothing.
So, everybody is equal. I don’t care who you are, what you have, what you don’t have, or how popular you are. Everybody is equal — every single person here. Isn’t that good? I have never locked eyes with someone who does not matter to God, nor have you. I’ve never locked eyes with someone who is less than, or more than me. You haven’t either. That’s how much God loves us. That is a beautiful thing in God’s economy.
Galatians 3:28 hammers it. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Check this out. Let this paragraph sink in. Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”
The church, friends, is the ultimate reflection of the Trinity. The church should be the most innovative entity out there, because of the Trinity. The Father invented innovation, the Son modeled innovation, and the Holy Spirit empowers innovation. If you are ever in another city, and if you ever go to another church that is boring, where the services are predictable and they are not diverse and creative, don’t blame the Trinity. Blame the leaders. The church must be on the cusp of creativity, if we are truly Trinitarians. The Trinity is creative. The Trinity is innovative. The Trinity is on the cutting edge. Why in the world do we think church should be boring? I don’t know. It’s not a reflection of the nature and the character of God, I can tell you that.
In John 17:22, Jesus said, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”
Look at 1 Corinthians 12:12. “The body (talking about the church) is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.”
What if my thumb said, “Hey, dude, I want to be a nostril.”
What if my ear said, “Yeah, I want to be a thumb.”
I’d have a hard time, wouldn’t I, being unified in my body? My body wouldn’t work very well. The church is the same way. I ask you. Is your nostril important? You might not think about your nostril very much. But, if you injured your nostril you would say, “Whoa, it’s really important.” Your thumb — is it really that important? Well, my thumb is really important. I cut it a couple of weeks ago, and it still hurts. My thumb is important. It matters. All the parts work together for one body. The same is true in the local church. We all have different roles. Some of us are nostrils. Some of us are thumbs. Some of us are ears, feet, or whatever. We work together. We are unified. We are diverse; yet we are equal and we form one body. That’s why the Bible says the church should concentrate on things that bring unity. It’s easy for us to criticize each other and say this or that. We are just natural at doing that. The Bible says to concentrate on things that unify. We are diverse. We should own our diversity — applaud our diversity. We should thank God every time we think about how we are different. We are different because of the Trinity. We should think about the equality here, that we are playing on a level playing field. That’s the church.
Philippians 2:10-11 says, “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Bible says that every person who has ever lived will bow the knee before the Lord.
You might be saying, “Well, how can that happen, Ed? The Bible says that some are going to spend eternity in hell and others are going to heaven. How can the people who are going to hell bow the knee to Jesus and confess that he is Lord? How is that going to happen?”
Let me say this. God does not hurl anybody to hell. We choose that. If we dis God on earth, he will say, “Okay, you can have the eternal dis in hell.” Yet, the scripture says that everybody will get one last glance at Jesus before they are sentenced to either heaven or hell. Those who are on their way to hell will see Jesus and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. They will have that forever thought, that forever feeling, that they missed Christ. They dissed him, and because they dissed him, they are going to have the eternal dis in hell.
The Trinity is unified. The Trinity is diverse. The Trinity is all about equality. Why are we experiencing unity — true unity? People are looking for it. They are just dying for it. You can see it wherever you look in our world today. But, they will never experience true unity until they become Trinitarians.
Diversity. People are saying, “Man, I just want to discover my thumbprint for my life, man.” People are bouncing around from this job to that job. They ricochet from this part of the country to the other part of the country, just to try to find their unique and diverse plan. You are not going to find it until you become a Trinitarian.
Equality. We have this desire for equality. I just have it within me. I don’t know why I have it. You will never understand the maximum equality that God can give until you become a Trinitarian. We are unified in our sin. We have all messed up. We have all committed moral turnovers and foul ups. God the Father, though, had this unified plan to send his Son and to give us the Holy Spirit. Once we bow the knee to Christ, what happens? We discover our uniqueness — this diverse plan. From there, we discover the equality given to us by the Trinity itself. Then, we see others not the way we see them, but the way God sees them through us.
What do you crave? Hopefully, you don’t crave frogs and snakes. Maybe you crave chocolate, a date, a friend, or a win — whatever. The bottom line is that you crave the Trinity. It is my earnest prayer that you make the decision and the choice, today, to become tethered to the Trinity — tethered to the Trinity.