By Canon Chris Palmer
“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17.21
These words come from Jesus’ famous prayer shortly before he went to his death.. Jesus is praying for his followers to be one. Their unity will be a witness to the whole world of the goodness and love and faithfulness of God – and so invite others to put their trust in God.
But the unity that Jesus is praying for isn’t just a kind of clubbiness, mates who get along with one another. It is a unity founded in the unity, the oneness of God.
This is what we celebrate this Sunday on Trinity Sunday, that God is three but also perfectly one. And the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is of the most intimate kind. They infuse and interpenetrate one another, so that it’s not possible to look at one and not see the others. Father, Son, and Spirit are ‘in’ each other, as Jesus says. Metaphorically they occupy the same ‘space’.
But Jesus goes on to say that we also can be infused in the life of God: ‘may they also be in us’. Of course, it is ordinarily contrary to the nature of creatures to infuse other creatures. However closely we know one another, the brute fact that we have discrete bodies and minds means that we cannot occupy the same space. But the gift of God through his Spirit is that our spirits infuse the life of God and God infuses our lives.
Of course, whilst the Father, Son, and Spirit are delighted to interpenetrate each other, and there is nothing to inhibit their intimacy, we continually put up barriers to this overwhelming love, fearful of losing ourselves, or of being unworthy, or wanting to guard our independent status.
And whenever we put up these barriers, we are depriving not only ourselves but also the world of God. It is in knowing the intimacy of Jesus’ followers with God that others can come to believe. People don’t learn faith merely by being told or taught; they experience the intimate life of God by encountering others who share that life, and desiring the same.
So pray, with Jesus, that we will be in God, and draw others into God’s life too.