Pondering God’s first words about man (how and what he spoke) helps us understand who we are and therefore who God is. “And God said, ‘Let us make man…” Up to this point this is the most explicit time that God refers to himself in plurality. In Genesis 1:1 we first hear the hint of God as one who is more than one: Elohim (God) a plural noun is preceded by bara (created) a singular verb.
The first verse of the Bible seems to contain a grammatical error. But really the “error” only reveals God’s glory. Remember, people saw Jesus’ messiahship and deity as an error, but that “error” was actually the greatest revelation of God himself. In the same way, the contradiction at the cornerstone of Scripture, Genesis 1:1, is really a paradox that reveals God as he truly is.
The mystery of God’s Godhood is that he is community. He is more one than you as an individual person. Yet, he is more complex than all of creation together. God says, “Let us.” This is more than God speaking in the royal “we.” It is God revealing himself as he really is. We can only understand “let us” as we look at the fullness of the revelation of God given in the New Testament, especially through the apostles. The apostles always thought of God in a Trinitarian way––God was at once Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also can only think apostolically if we think Trinitarian.
The church has confessed the Trinity in creed, but has not really embraced this foundational revelation of God in life and thought. Many Christians see the doctrine of the Trinity like an ugly duckling, marring our beautiful message of love and morality. If only we can sweep this mess under the couch then maybe someone may get saved. Whole sects have turned away from the Trinity as something outdated and traditional, something the church ultimately inherited from Constantine. The church has failed to see the beauty of the Triune God and how the whole Bible cannot be understood without embracing God as community.
Only as we understand God’s plurality can we understand who we are. Why? Because we have been made in his image. And isn’t it insightful that our number one problem is that we cannot live in unity because of our diversity? The holocaust was the fruit of a government who was threatened by his fellow man; his neighbor was different, causing him pain that led to vehement hatred. The current Middle East crisis is the result of friction because of ethnic interests. People are in competition with one another: they strive to be the fittest in order to survive. Striving to lay down one’s life for one’s enemies, like Christ did for us, is foreign to our thought.
Prayer: God, only as we discover you as unity in diversity are we going to live in unity with one another. Teach us your community and let us enter that community in a deeper way today, in Jesus’ name.