God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – what does it mean?

The idea that we call God “Father”, “Son” and “Holy Spirit” can be confusing – why have three names when we are talking about one God? This is called (in technical language) “The Trinity” and is an idea that is unique to Christianity. The ideas below may help you understand more why we say it.

When we call God “Father” (and it could just as easily be “Mother”!) we really mean it: if you have children, think about your own feelings for them, especially when they were very young and depended on you for everything. The very best kind of parental love is self-sacrificing – when a child is in danger, a good parent would do literally anything to save them. When we call God “Father” this is what we are talking about: the way we feel about our own children is the way that God feels about us. It’s a pretty mind-blowing idea! But God as a Father or Mother also means that God wants the best for us, and knows better than we do what that might be. Even though God is disappointed when we fall short of how he created us to be, he still always holds his arms out to us, welcoming us home, and forgiving us. You can read a bible story about this here Luke 15.11-32

When we call God “Son” we are talking about Jesus Christ. We can read about him in the gospels (the bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) – we can learn that he was wonderful at telling stories that helped people come to know God better, that he healed people who were sick, and that he spent a lot of time with those on the margins of society, who nobody else valued. When we call Jesus the “Son of God” we are saying that we can look on Jesus and see what God is like. We are affirming that we believe that Jesus is God in human form – that he came to earth, born as a baby, and grew up and lived on earth, just as we do, but lived a perfect life. When he died on the cross (for more on this, click here) he died a real human death, but because he came back to life again and returned to heaven, all who believe in him can follow him through death to everlasting life in heaven.

When we call God “Holy Spirit” we are not talking about some kind of impersonal thing, like “the force” in Star Wars, but about God’s real presence with us now. When Jesus was walking around on earth, that was the way that people could meet God. But the Holy Spirit of God is a way that all people everywhere can meet God, and be aware of his presence in our lives. We can’t see the Holy Spirit, but we can be aware of what the Holy Spirit does (just like we can’t see the wind, but we can see the trees moving when it blows). The Holy Spirit is the way that we know God is with us, and the way that God strengthens and guides us every day of our lives. We can pray to God that he will fill us with his Holy Spirit, so that we will become more aware of God’s presence.

We come together in church to worship God, to hear His word and to share the Good news of Jesus,
receiving forgiveness and renewal through His death and resurrection.

We are sent out from church to live as Christian disciples, showing love to others
and living out our faith in all we think, say and do.

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