How the Triune God Gives Purpose to Our Work Life
The three persons of the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—are an eternal, mysterious unity in diversity. The Trinitarian understanding of God is unique to Christianity and is foundational for all other aspects of our theology. It is not an abstract concept but the reality of who God is.
The Christian teaching of the Trinity is indeed mysterious and intellectually challenging. But it’s not a math equation. The persons of the Trinity are not three separate gods who work in harmony. Neither is God one person who takes one form at one time and takes another at another time. God is one being, eternally existing as three persons who know and love one another. “God is not more fundamentally one than he is three, and he is not more fundamentally three than he is one.”¹ In this divine community,
the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each centering on the others, adoring and serving them. And because the Father, Son, and Spirit are giving glorifying love to one another, God is infinitely, profoundly happy. Think about this: If you find somebody you adore, someone for whom you would do anything, and you discover that this person feels the same way about you, does that feel good? It’s sublime! That’s what God has been enjoying for all eternity. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are pouring love and joy and adoration into the other, each one serving the other. They are infinitely seeking one another’s glory, and so God is infinitely happy. And if it’s true that this world has been created by this triune God, then ultimate reality is a dance.²
When we embrace the reality that we are fashioned in the image of the triune God, we begin to understand why relationships are so important—including those at work. The people with whom we work are not placed in our lives haphazardly. Nor are they merely a means to a productive end. God has called us, created in his image, to seek the good of others. The goal of work is not self-promotion, therefore, but rather to love and to serve others.
The Communal Godhead
Western culture often focuses on the individual so much that the communal nature of our being and purpose gets lost. The doctrine of the Trinity provides a much-needed corrective to rightly discern our purpose in work. The communal nature of God means that we, as creatures made in his image, are irreducibly communal. We cannot understand ourselves outside of the context of being in community with others. Nor can we produce truly satisfying work without serving others.
The gospel calls us not only to serve others, but also to esteem others as better than ourselves (see Philippians 2:3–4). When we do this, we are able to see the people in our workplaces—colleagues, clients, managers, support staff and others—as persons, not means to a greater end of our own self-promotion. The doctrine of the Trinity, when rightly applied, protects us and others from being objectified, and it confronts our self-serving tendencies.
¹Timothy Keller, Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God (New York: Riverhead, 2013).
Article from the NIV Faith & Work Bible.
NIV Faith & Work Bible
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