Far from being an abstract concept, the Trinity is what makes us us eager to love. We are motivated to love because we are made like God, Who is Love. We love, as John put it, because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).
I wish you could have known Clyde Latimer. I met him during my college years, and I imagine Clyde was at least forty years my senior. He was a retired rough-neck worker in East Texas oil fields, and he lived many years with no faith in Christ. In fact, the “gentle Jesus meek and mild” image only made Clyde less interested. I remember Clyde saying that a lot of Christian art turned him farther away from Jesus because “it looked like one gust of wind would blow him away.”
But as with so many others, the Hound of Heaven was on Clyde’s trail, and his “come to Jesus” experience happened when, during a time of depression, Clyde read the 23rd Psalm. His response was, “I can love a God like that!”—a response that changed his life. Clyde lived his remaining years loving God and loving others because in the Shepherd, he had found love (or better, been found by love) as never before.
If we keep the Trinity locked in a conceptional/doctrinal prison, we will never understand why we believe in it in the first place. But when we recognize the Godhead as a passionate Lover, we will find ourselves eager to love, saying through our words and deeds, like Clyde Latimer did, “I can love a God like that!”
This is why the image of fire has been used in Scripture and tradition to describe someone filled the Spirit—the fire of love. The next round of posts in this series will move through Christian history looking at selected people whose hearts burned with love.