A Relational God
This Saturday I am leading the men's discipleship at Christ Church Edinburgh. We have been slowly going through the Westminster Confession Faith (about one chapter per month). This week we find ourselves in Chapter Four: Of Creation. As I have been preparing, I have been struck by the opening line.
It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost...
My friend, Matt, with a few other guys, is currently teaching an adult discipleship class on the Holy Spirit. Matt's first class was on the Holy Spirit and his relationship to the rest of the Godhead. Matt started out a class on the Holy Spirit with the Trinity. It seems that the Westminster Divines want to do the same thing. They are eager to say that the Triune relationship defines what we understand about creation.
The funny part about this is that this is not how many of us think. I know of countless children's storybook Bible's that start out by saying some variation of: 'In the beginning God was lonely, and so he created you and me.' Yet, what it seems the Westminster Divines want us to understand is that God does not create out of a lack or a need. He creates out of a fullness. God in himself has all he needs. He does not create because he needs a relationship with us, but he creates because of the overflow of that relationship. John 15 puts it this way:
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. - John 15:9
It is out of the overflow of the love which the members of the Godhead have for each other, that makes God's love for us possible. Before God created, he was in relationship. This gives us great hope. Being in relationship is part of his nature. It is a part of who God is at his core. This means that God's relationship with us isn't contingent on us or our ability to meet some standard to stay in relationship with him. He is in relationship with us not because he lacked something, but because he has a fullness that overflows. His relationship with us is a relationship that flows out of the fullness of who he is. This is great hope.
The opening line of Chapter Four of The Confession is there to remind us that God's act of creation is inherently relational. It is relational in that it flows out of the eternal Triune relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is on that truth that we can rest our hope.