Every time we worship, we stand and recite an ancient creed of the Church called the Nicene Creed. In the Creed, among other things, we state our belief in the Trinity. We start by saying that we “believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth.” We continue by stating our belief in “one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made of one Being with the Father.” When we get to the Holy Spirit, we don’t say much. We proclaim that we “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.” Then we move on to proclaim our beliefs about the Church, baptism, the resurrection and heaven. But nothing more about the Holy Spirit. I’ve always been curious about that.
I recently read a marvelous book written by Dallas Willard and John Ortberg called Living in Christ’s Presence. The book is thought provoking and inspiring. Among other things, the book takes a close look at the Trinity and helps me with my question about why more wasn’t said about the Holy Spirit by the Council of Nicaea. The authors quote Dale Bruner who in his book The Holy Spirit: Shy Member of the Trinity points out something that I had not thought a lot about. Of the Holy Spirit, Bruner writes “one of the most surprising discoveries in my own study of the doctrine and experience of the Spirit in the New Testament is what I can only call the shyness of the Holy Spirit. What I mean here is not the shyness of timidity. 1 Timothy 1:7 calls him the spirit of power. It’s not the spirit of timidity, but the spirit of difference. A spirit of concentrated attention on another. It is not the shyness which with we often experience self-centeredness, but the shyness of other-connectedness. In a word, the shyness of love.” In other words, the Holy Spirit’s work is to continue to point and give glory to Jesus.
We don’t say a lot about the Holy Spirit because that is the Holy Spirit’s intention. The Holy Spirit’s work is to have us look to and honor Jesus. As the authors write “The Holy Spirit’s desire and work is that we be overcome again, excited and gripped again by the wonder, the majesty, the relevance of Jesus.” And yet, it’s not just the Holy Spirit who keeps pointing away from Himself. Indeed, the work of the Trinity shows us the same shyness. “It’s the circle of the Father, Son and Spirit. The Son submits to the Father and the Father loves to glorify the Son, and the Son is driven by the Spirit, and the Spirit reminds everybody of the Son. The Father also sends the Spirit, and there is an endless, eternal humble, gentle community” within God Himself.
This graciousness and humility is moving. During the season of Lent, it is easy to discover our own pride, lack of graciousness and humility. But if we look to God and see within the Trinity such love and gracefulness then it can lead us to confession and repentance. By the power and grace of God, we can begin to reflect the same amazing love and “shyness” to the world around us. May we all look into the very essence of God and be both reminded and empowered to lives of gracefulness.