It is a challenge to find words to make sense of what we mean by sharing God’s life. We talk of union, communion, perichoresis, theosis, participation, mutuality, and a host of other terms. What does that all mean?
When I was finishing my Ph.D. in New Zealand, I wrote a song that still captures some thoughts I find helpful. I will comment between verses.
Intertwined, acting in time,
Father, Son and Spirit.
You are Triunity, The Person of God,
Giving Your life to me
I think of the idea of intertwining as a relationship that is unbounded, but can act in each other’s space to make connection. This is significant. God is outside time, yet comes to us in time to connect—we know the God who is for us. This coming is not just an idea, it is made concrete in Jesus who interfaces both then and now with our time.
This intertwining is God’s way of being. The Father, Son, and Spirit cannot but be intertwined in all they do. All creation is made, sustained, and given meaning by this God who was intertwined before creation. But God extends that way of being to what God creates as the outworking of creative love. That we are living in this world is a gift of God’s intertwined activity.
This God is personal. Personal is never an isolated individual, and is always a life intertwined with other persons. One Personal God exists in three Persons. As One God, they experience love, knowing, and sharing with what they create as expressions of an intertwined life.
That this intertwined life is externalised in giving is to show that the outworking of being intertwined is not self-serving, rather, it is expressive, ecstatic and reaching out to give, not take. To respond in faith is to become intertwined as well, to go beyond myself in reaching to be held by one who reaches out to me.
Lives woven together,
United in Spirit,
Life in communion.
In Colossians 2, Paul talks about hearts knitted together in the life of a community. This slow and intentional weaving and knitting of lives is lost to our memory, but constitutes the development of our lives in the context of those who weave with us so that we are connected or interwoven. The Spirit does this with the God-human relation. We hear and know that we are loved, belong, and go with this God in a present and active life of being sustained.
This is life in communion. This word images the meal of communion, finding unity in the Lord ’s Supper. It more broadly reflects the unity of friendship when sharing food and time in the intersection of our lives. In the Song of Solomon chapter 5, the couple are experiencing marital bliss and the voice comes, “Eat, drink deep O lovers.” This, I was told by my Old Testament professor, is likely the voice of God affirming sexual communion as a celebration of the intertwined life. All of us, body, spirit, mind, and every other designation is designed to be intertwined.
Intertwined, your life and mine,
In Christ, by the Spirit,
We are Christ’s body,
The People of God,
Giving life to each other.
As we turn from seeing God’s life intertwined, we see that the life of faith and community is an extension of God’s intertwined way of being. We feel a fondness, a camaraderie, and a friendship that can only come as a fruit of a life that is intertwined. This is true of the people where we really feel loved.
We have this intertwining in a community that feels like a family. Plenty of people go to churches and do not feel intertwined. But they are missing the lifeblood of what it means to be part of Christ’s body, and to be the people of God, yes, the family of God. When our lives are intertwined, we find ourselves giving time, affection, help, advice, invitations to celebrations, and so much more. If we are not giving our life to each other, we are likely missing the point.
Intertwined, I’m knitted in time,
Given Life by the Spirit,
Birthed as a person,
A child of God,
Sharing life with all others.
This intertwining is not automatic or magical. It is the fruit of choosing to be with people in real-time interaction. In our busy lives, we can unravel, not only in our relationships, but in who we are as persons. The fruit of the Spirit is all about the dynamic of developing intertwined living. Love is never solitary, it is the symptom of close interaction and valuing. Joy is discovered in experiencing another person who is giving themselves to you. Peace is a settled intertwining with no resistance, in fact, there is a nurturing and feeding in that peace.
We are birthed biologically because of the persons who conceived us, woven in our mother’s womb, but beyond that, we develop as persons in personal relationships. That is exactly the result of weaving our language, stories, emotions, and all the rest together into a distinctive, but connected life.
As the Children of God, we are brothers and sisters, blessed with a diverse family. The family dimension develops in the sharing, not only in the blood. Being of the same blood is very good, but not nearly as satisfactory as the life intertwined together.
This intertwining is the life of shared love. It can be both mystical and practical. We cannot know all of what is happening, but we ought not to deny that something is happening. When we miss others we love, that is the symptom of being intertwined. When we desire to be with someone, it is the urge to intertwine. When our faith in the triune God is alive, we feel a profound connectedness to the world and God and others that is the life of being intertwined for which we were created.
While our world and cultures seem to be unraveling, the God of all Intertwining is still at work; in Him all things are intertwined together. To know and be known by this God is to give and receive this intertwined kind of life.