Good things come in threes
Note: This is the same content as my For or Against article, but without the distraction of the links to supporting evidence, documents, and media.
Christians have been protesting for 500 years against the injustices of their own people toward each other. The year 2017 marks 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door.
Phyllis Tickle said that every 500 years, the church has a rummage sale.
With people streaming from the four corners of the world to gather at Standing Rock, they are standing against over 500 years of oppression, since the Papal declaration of the Doctrine of Discovery.
Now, the oppressors will account for their injustice. However, according to the experts, the same people who brought us the financial crisis of 2007 are not going to give up power quite so easily.
All that money went somewhere. Where did it go?
Well, all I know is that we cannot serve both God and money.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Now, it’s time to choose sides. Which will you choose?
Now is the time to take a stand to protect the water, that gives us life, and to protect the air we breathe, that moment by moment sustains us, from being polluted by the work of our own hands. The oceans, lakes, and rivers are being polluted by our reckless disregard for the animals who call these waters home. The air is warming up, throwing off the delicate balance of the fragile ecosystem. The atmosphere could be considered the inner ear of the earth, analogous to the organ that controls our own sense of balance. The human race has had a visible and measurable effect on the climate that is governed by the air inside this inner ear. The earth hears our hatred, violence, and indifference in the way we live. This is the earth’s vestibular system. If we throw off this delicate balance, we will not be able to stay upright. We will fall.
Given this divine ultimatum, the choices are becoming more and more clear by the moment.
God has always been pretty clear about choosing sides.
- Good or evil
- Life or death
- Blessings or curses
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Apostle Paul might have said this in a different way.
- Faith or certainty
- Hope or oppression
- Love or indifference
We should all know which way to go.
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
You see, good things always come in threes.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Speaking of sacred trinities, let’s consider the Trinity as a concept. The last words of Jesus on earth make reference to three entities:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Let’s think of the Trinity in a different way. We know that there is a Father, and there is a Son. Who is the Mother? Naturally, Christians will respond that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Jewish people will object. They are still waiting for their Messiah to appear. They do not believe in the Christ of Christianity. Jews would already be objecting, because they do not believe in the concept of the Trinity. For there is only one God.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Still, Christians insist that there is no contradiction, since the Trinity refers to God as a single being consisting of three parts, a mystery that we humans find hard to fathom. But I think the objection to the concept of the Trinity seems to fall apart when we think about how humans generally conceive of themselves as having three parts: a mind, a soul, and a body. Yet, we are still one person, one being. Is that not what it means to be made in the image of God?
Now, would that make the Spirit female? Well, that doesn’t seem too far off, since the divine personification of Wisdom is referred to with the feminine pronoun in the book of Proverbs.
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
In this ancient Hebrew book, the Spirit of Wisdom gives some very motherly advice.
Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.
In the words of Jesus to one of the Pharisees, the Spirit is also referred to in female terms:
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
The Apostle Paul reiterates the idea of the feminine when speaking of the Spirit. (I am going to change one word. Let’s see if you can tell which word I changed.)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit herself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for Godʼs people in accordance with the will of God.
I changed the personal pronoun referring to the Spirit: “the Spirit herself.”
It sounds to me that the Spirit is always involved in the activities that are related to women: creating and bringing forth life. Women are also the ones who comfort us when we’ve scratched up our knees.
Paul talked a lot about adoption and families. Following the “most excellent way” meant becoming part of a different kind of family. Jesus referred to his heavenly Father. That makes him the honoured Son. It always puzzled me that there was no mention of a mother.
I suppose it just means that thousands of years of patriarchy have blinded us to the fact that our mother has always been there. Go to any bar in the world to start a fight, and I bet you’ll hear something like this:
Call me whatever you like, but if you say anything against my Mom, I’m going to punch you in the face!
That’s why it is the unforgivable sin to speak against the Spirit. Jesus was just being a good son by coming to the defence of his mother.
Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
When we celebrate New Year’s Eve, we often refer to Father Time, the old guy we put to bed before the New Year arrives and the year is inaugurated by the birth of the New Year’s baby.
Now, let’s think of where we’ve seen time associated with a triad of other things. Most people consider Einstein a genius, but they don’t look to him for theology, unless you are Krista Tippett.
Let’s imagine that Time is our father. Well, according to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, there is a mass-energy equivalence.
Einstein’s famous equation refers to energy as equal to mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light. We owe our very existence to the existence of something that has come before us: the universe, which we often refer to as time and space. In that sense, time is our father.
Now think about what the hippies liked to call this big blue marble in space: Mother Earth. Some people even came up with an idea called the Gaia hypothesis, suggesting that the earth is actually a single organism.
Can we say that the Earth really is our Mother?
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for Godʼs people in accordance with the will of God.
Here’s where the great discrepancies lie between the three great Abrahamic religions. No one can quite agree on who the Son of God is. The Jews believe that there is but one God, and Messiah is yet to come. The Christians believe in a Trinitarian God, and that the Christ has already come, and he is coming again. The Muslims appear to believe that there is but one God, and Jesus might have been a good man, but not a Son of God, and that the Holy Prophet was Muhammad.
Setting these discrepancies aside, let us consider that there might be merit in the concept of a Trinity. I know this is going to be a stretch for the Jews and Muslims, but please give me the benefit of the doubt for a moment.
Let’s say that good things do come in threes.
- Universe = time, energy, matter
- Time = past, present, future
- Space = width, length, height
- Atom = protron, neutron, electron
- Matter = gas, liquid, solid
- Earth = sky, water, land
- Human = mind, spirit, body
- Experience = knowing, being, doing
- Purpose = why, what, how
- Action = perception, cognition, emotion
- Family = father, mother, child
- Story = setting, plot, characters
- Plot = conflict, climax, resolution
- Work = imagine, design, build
- Day = morning, afternoon, evening
- Activities = work, play, rest
- White = red, green, blue
- Black = cyan, magenta, yellow
- Primary Colours = blue, red, yellow
- Primary Forms = sphere, cube, cone
- Pregnancy = conception, gestation, birth
- Lifecycle = birth, life, death
- Seasons = Spring, Summer, Harvest (Winter being the rest in between, symbolic of a time of waiting until the cycle resumes)
- Gifts = gold, frankincense, myrrh
- The greatest gifts = faith, hope, love
Now, let’s say there is a mysterious force that holds the universe together that we call gravity. But no one knows what it really is, except for the Beatles. They sang that love is all you need.
Language and Confusion
When we don’t understand each other, we say, “You are speaking a different language.” That’s where all this confusion started.
Call the divine what you will. That is merely a matter of interpretation. We live in a world confused by different languages. But we have the tools to listen and to interpret. We have two ears to listen and one mouth to speak. That should say something to us.
We have these three great world religions and some other faiths and beliefs, but these certainties expressed in holy writ have been our greatest sources of conflict as human beings trying to find our way in the world. Some have gone so far as to propose a solution: let’s just say that God doesn’t exist, and the whole problem goes away. Well, maybe.
But what if God does exist? I don’t think he would like it if he were ignored. We know what happens when Glenn Close goes off the rails in Fatal Attraction.
What happens when the God of the universe is ignored and gets jealous?
What if the whole thing has been a huge misunderstanding, and we are all talking about the same thing, but without the common language to understand each other?
What if the universe is the physical expression of the divine? What if father time and mother earth had a baby? What would the child look like? Well, God is a God of love, is he not? I think their child would look like love. In the physical universe, I suppose the phenomenon might be known as gravity, the fundamental force that holds everything together, from the smallest particles to the largest galaxies.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
So, if God is real, and there might be a possibility that he could exist, as we do, as a unity in diversity: mind, spirit and body, can we not conceive of a God in the same terms: mind, spirit and body? We are then the image of the divine, because we share the same basic characteristics of conscious life.
And the place where we go to learn about the complexities of the universe is meant to help us find the way to learn about this unity in diversity. It is called a university.
However, if we focus on only one subject, we will miss out on the grand adventure that life offers. There is more than one subject, but there is so little time in one human life.
Well, that’s where we get to our purpose in life. What is our ultimate destiny? Is death the end of everything. God says, No. There is more. Much more.
What can we say about our ultimate destiny. One thing that we have heard is that God wants to take us to a new home. Where is that? Is it paradise? Is it heaven? Is it earth?
Some Christians have the misconception that the good people will be taken to heaven, but the bad people will go to hell. The bad people may even have been prepared in advance for eternal conscious torment. But seriously, who would believe in such a god? That sounds terrible! That doesn’t sound like a God of love.
What was revealed in the actual story was that a new city would come from heaven to earth. But what does this mean? Well, if anyone remembers Star Trek and the Borg, it sounds a lot like that, except that the Borg is nice. They just want to assimilate. It’s like the marriage of the perfect cube and perfect sphere. Resistance is futile. They were made for each other.
It’s like the ultimate odd couple.
According to Isaiah, things are going to go back to the way they were at the very beginning, a garden paradise:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
That sounds like the restoration of the original paradise in Eden. The Disciple, John, appears to agree that Eden will be restored:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Well, as I said in another article, it sounds like a child’s paradise, something like this Mowgli romping with Bagheera and his friends in The Jungle Book.
Well, whatever the future will be, who can really know? But lets get back to now. How do we deal with our present reality?
Let’s be honest. Things look pretty grim.
I mean, we live in a paradise compared with the chaos of the rest of the universe, which looks like it could be a vast, barren stretch of nothingness filled with bits of dust and gas. Maybe there are extraterrestrials. Maybe one day we will meet some. But what if we are alone in the universe? What then? That sounds so depressing.
Well, there is the alternative. There might be a God.
Let’s consider a few more equations:
God = mind + spirit + body
God = time + energy + gravity
God = faith + hope + love
I think that could be our solution. God is the singularity. We are the amazing, physical embodiment of who he is.
God is listening and he is not silent
What if the earth is the embodiment of the Spirit in this vast universe. That means the Earth really is our mother. And our mother is in the pangs of childbirth, about to birth a new creation. Just like Paul said, the pain will be worth it. These really are just momentary troubles. This too shall pass.
The air represents the breath of life that sustains us moment by moment. What if the weather represents the inner ear of God? If we are disrupting the fine balance of the ecosystem, don’t you think God is going to hear that? We even refer to weather events as acts of God. Well, it seems to me that God has been getting pretty angry lately, or is it just me?
What if each of us are a brain cell in the mind of the divine? The internet was born in the mind of a man who helped defeat the evil empire of the 20th century, by cracking a code called Enigma.
Given that a gay man saved the world from an evil dictator, I would think that we might celebrate him, rather than demonizing him for not being like the majority.
The Internet is pretty amazing, isn’t it. I marvel at how the Internet has collapsed space and time. We can virtually see everything that is happening around the planet in real time, because of this network of wires that connects us all.
If the son of God is the head, the entire human race is his body. We stand or fall together, depending on how well we can balance. But our equilibrium is being thrown off by an ecosystem that is being threatened by the way humans are neglecting their duty to care for the earth, for their own mother. Well, of course, the Father is going to be angry if we are killing our own Mother.
The World Wide Web came online in 1991. The Internet is only a very young, newly formed universal consciousness. As our central nervous system has just been formed, the body is starting to come alive and to wake up.
Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
But, we are killing our mother and killing ourselves in the womb. This is the greatest form of abortion the world has ever seen. And the majority of American Christian Evangelicals voted for the guy who’s probably crazy enough to push the button to bring the gestation period to a premature end.
Animals are dying in the prisons we have created for them. (Both of the beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium recently died.) Jesus came to renew the entire earth, to set the captives free. Our brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom are losing the will to live.
Are we not our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers?
The earth cries out for the blood of our brothers and sisters, whom we have killed mercilessly with our own hands, by active violence or grave indifference.
History Repeats Itself
Let’s go back to the garden of Eden. That has always been the goal.
The first book of the Bible and the first chapter are not a scientific treatise on how the universe began. It is poetry. God is teaching his children the basics about meaning, purpose, and belonging. He is defining his terms, the words that he uses to create are the same words he uses throughout his Word to communicate the supernatural meaning of the natural world.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming — not the realities themselves.
We belong in the garden that he gave to us as our responsibility. But we may abdicate our position as guardians of his estate by refusing to listen to him.
There is an interesting parallel structure to the history of Israel and the history of the Church. It is interesting to note how Jesus is always referring to the three days that it will take him to build the temple. What is he referring to? He was killed on a cross and rose on the third day. But why three days? He definitely makes a strong point about the symbolism by the reference to the three days that Jonah spends inside the fish, symbolic of his own descent into the depths to release the captives from death. But again, why the three days?
I would suggest that the three days refer to the parallel structure of the Genesis narrative. I would suggest that three days is the gestation period for the Spirit/Mother to give birth to new life. The first trimester separates light from darkness. The second trimester separates water and sky. The third trimester separates life from inanimate matter. The third day always represents the birth of a new form of life.
Day 1: Light and darkness
Day 2: Water and sky
Day 3: Land and vegetation
Day 4: Light and darkness
Day 5: Water and sky
Day 6: Land animals and mankind
Day 7: Rest
Let us remember that flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. But men tend to be the leaders of the Church and have little context to personally understand the pregnancy and birth process. That is, except for this verse:
Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.
The Times of Israel
Three days of gestation: light, water, land.
Israel’s purpose is to be a light to the nations. God released his oppressed people from slavery and brought them through the water and into a promised land. The Jewish temple symbolizes the presence of God among his people. But it was never intended as God’s dwelling. It could never contain God. And how could it? But through Israel, through a long process of gestation, God birthed a Saviour, a completely new form of life, a perfect human, who had the power to overcome death.
This is the Age of the flesh.
The Times of the Gentiles
Three days of gestation: light, water, land.
The Church’s purpose is to be a light to the nations. God released his oppressed people through the water of baptism into the world, scattering them to every land on the earth. The Christian temple is the heart of everyone who believes. This was where God had intended to dwell from the beginning. The invisible creative collective are connected through the presence of God’s indwelling Spirit, and are being knit together into a new form of life, through a long process of gestation, into a unified body in Christ that is destined to be given the power to overcome death by becoming one with God himself.
This is the Age of the Spirit.
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.
It has been said that God is love. It has also been said that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to save the world.
Now it’s time to listen to Mother.
Now is the time to choose.