Theology

Enjoying God

We might think often of obeying God and knowing him and even trusting and loving him. But how often do we think of our relationship with God in terms of joy and happiness? What does it mean to “enjoy God”? If we are saved by him and belong to him and obey him, what difference does it make if we enjoy him? Our thoughts about God are critical to our faith and relationship with him, but what about our feelings toward him? Is it a modern self-help fascination to want to have happy feelings toward God—or is it a firm promise of the Scriptures and the goal of our union with Christ? 

This Sunday, we’ll start a new series in our gatherings and groups: Enjoying God.

enjoying God graphic.jpg

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this Q&A: What is the chief end of man? “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” 

Or as author John Piper has written: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” 

Enjoying God is one thing we can do here and now, regardless of circumstances, regardless of our future, that has an eternal impact on our own souls, and improves our lives on earth. Enjoying God is what we were made for. 

The point of enjoying God is not what we get from it—less sin, more strength, a better life, etc. The point of enjoying God is simply enjoying God—he is the source of true, lasting joy. We find joy when we find him. 

How Do We Enjoy God? 

Our joy in God increases as we come to know him as he is (his character, attributes, and ways) and enter his presence in prayer. When we do these two things, the result will be enjoying God in everyday life

The three important elements of this series are: 

(1) Knowing God’s Character & Attributes, 
(2) Cultivating a Prayerful Life, and (the result)
(3) Enjoying God in Everyday Life 

Enjoying God’s Character & Attributes

The majority of this sermon series and community group study is a sustained meditation on God’s character and attributes. Each week (after the introductory sermon), we’ll focus on an aspect of God’s character (an attribute) so that we enjoy him as he is. A **highly-tentative** schedule is: 

June 9: Enjoying God in Everyday Life (Pentecost Sunday)
June 16: Enjoying God the Trinity (Trinity Sunday) 
June 23: Enjoying God Most Beautiful
June 30: Enjoying God Most Loving 

July 7: Enjoying God Most Merciful
July 14: Enjoying God Most Just
July 21: Enjoying God Most Faithful
July 28: Enjoying God Most Powerful 

Aug 4: Enjoying God Most Wise
Aug 11: Enjoying God through Suffering

***

If you are a Trinity member: This summer is a great opportunity to grow in your knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of God! Consider a commitment to join us for all ten weeks (in the gathering or, if you’re serving in Trinity Kids or traveling, by following the sermon page as well).

If you are considering a visit to Trinity: This is a great time to visit us! We would love to have you. If you have any questions, would like to talk with a pastor or leader, or want to let us know ahead of time that you’ll be visiting… you can contact us here.

See you Sunday!
JSL

Talking About Charlottesville

In response to the racist gatherings in Charlottesville, we responded with a communal prayer of lament last night at Trinity Church. Here is what I shared with our congregation, and the prayers of lament and assurance follow. - Jeremy

Our lament tonight is a little bit different, so I want to explain why we do these sorts of laments. Part of our liturgy is the communal confession and lament, where we confess our own sins and cry out against the sins of others and the brokenness of the world—it’s a type of prayer that comes directly from the Psalms.

This past week, as you probably have been following, there was a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally in itself is a tragedy worth lamenting—thousands of people celebrating the marginalization of other human beings, promoting further racism against people of color. But then, a 20-year old man in support of the rally, drove his car at a high speed directly into a crowd that was opposing the rally. Heather Heyer, a 32-year old local woman who was an advocate for marginalized communities, was killed, and at least 19 others were injured.

Why We Need to Talk About This

We need to be the type of church that stops to talk and pray about these events. As a church with white leadership, we want to make it explicitly clear that we completely reject and condemn white nationalism/supremacy. The so-called “alt-right” is not a political group; it is an evil and demonic position of hatred.

We talked about this in Ephesians 2:11-22 about this a few weeks ago: There is simply no way to be a Christian and look down on people not like you. You cannot be changed by grace, transformed by Christ, and then try to exalt yourself at the expense of others.

I admit I have a hard time talking about these things; it’s tempting to just keep it light-hearted. I can talk about fantasy football for hours, but stumble to find a few words to speak on injustice. But that reflects my own life of privilege, where thinking and talking about injustice and suffering has been optional. But out of love for our black and brown brothers and sisters, we want to talk about these things.

An Inescapable Network of Mutuality  

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote to a group of mostly white church leaders. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” What was most discouraging to Dr. King was not the white supremacists’ hatred toward him; he was most grieved by white Christians, especially leaders, not clearly rejecting racism.

He continues in the letter, “Over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council or or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to… the absence of tension [than] to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”

Trinity Church has to be a place where racism simply cannot take root, where we create space for people of all ethnic backgrounds. But that’s not enough: We have to be a people and a place that doesn’t remain silent and hope everything will work out. We have a responsibility, as Christians, to promote justice in every community where we have an influence. That’s not a “social gospel,” it’s a “deep gospel.” If our leadership team is still all white in five years, we will have failed miserably.

Our neighbors of color are suffering in our communities every single day, and we have far more in common with them than we do someone of a similar skin color to us. We were once outsiders, but now we have been invited into the family of God, entirely by grace.

Let's pray together; you may read the italicized portions aloud if you'd like.

Prayer of Lament

This lament is adapted from one by Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Father, we remember the cross of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the place where you love, your mercy, and your justice were fulfilled. You came down and transformed us by your mercy, even while we were your enemies. We now ask with faith that your mercy and justice might transform our world. 

We specifically mourn the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, where evil has, once again, manifested itself against image-bearers, against your holy Church, against you. We mourn the sinful institutions that have preyed on image-bearers for generation upon generation. We mourn with those who have suffered for decades under prejudiced laws and cheap justice.

O Lord, we confess that we have too often ignored the pain of our brothers and sisters who face constant hate, death, and hopelessness. And even when we have had the eyes to see these injustices, Father, we confess that we have been tempted to turn in hatred against those who have perpetrated such evils.

With sorrow, God, we confess that the Church is often one of the last places where justice is heralded.

Have mercy on us, O God, according to your steadfast love.
Have mercy on us, O God, according to you perfect goodness.
Have mercy on us, O God, according to your unshakeable faithfulness. 

Move among your people. Empower us with your Spirit. Give us the passion to love the unloved and to welcome the stranger. May your Gospel unify your Church, that we may see your peace reign in our hearts, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and in this nation. Amen

Prayer of Assurance

Now, let's pray this together:

Remember that formerly you were outsiders by birth and called “unclean.”
But now, in Christ Jesus, we, who once were far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Remember that at one time you were separate from Christ, excluded from family of God.
But now Christ himself has become our peace; he has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility between peoples.

Remember that you were orphans without a father and refugees without a people, without a place. 
But now Christ has created, in himself, one new humanity from every nation, making peace through his wounds.

Remember that you were once without hope and without God in the world. 
But now Christ has made a way for all peoples to return to God, by way of the cross. Thanks be to God.   (Adapted from Ephesians 2:11-16)

The Peace of Christ

Our desire at Trinity Church is to be so full of the peace we have received from God in Christ that we continually show that same grace-saturated peace to one another. 

The closing of Dr. King's letter seems an appropriate plea to finish with: 

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow, the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

 

Why We're Called 'Trinity Church'

What are we called 'Trinity Community Church'? What is the significance of the Trinity for us?

The Trinity is the historic Christian theological framework for describing the glorious mystery that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit—three in one. There are a few reasons why this is a perfect name for our new congregation.

History

It is a fundamental Christian doctrine that has been affirmed throughout the ages, a point of unity between believers across the globe. As a result of its theological importance, “Trinity” is a very traditional church name. The name has been adopted widely by Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Charismatic, Methodist, and Presbyterian traditions. We have been influenced and blessed by many of these different streams of Christianity and want to identify ourselves by a traditional name rather than something new and different. 

Beauty

Indeed, the Trinity is a beautiful truth. Within the Trinity, we discover the glorious riches of God’s person and nature. In the Trinity, we come to a fuller understanding of the gospel: The Father loves us and calls us; the Son lived, died and was resurrected for us; and the Spirit applies that love and work to us, indwelling us with his presence.

Side Note: Our logo—created by our friend Chris Bennett in Louisville—is designed after a traditional stained-glass window. For centuries, churches have used stained-glass windows with three panes forming a single shape to signify the three Persons of the Trinity. Based on the famous “Trinity knot” design, the window is a lens for seeing the Church and for seeing from the Church into the world. The soft gold color is a nod to both our sending church (Sojourn Church in Louisville uses the same color scheme) and our heart for the students of the University of Missouri.

Unity

Since God is a relational being—he has eternally existed in relationship—and we are his image-bearers, we cultivate meaningful, committed, loving relationships with one another. We seek to have our relationships marked by Trinitarian ethics, putting one another first and seeking the glory of the other.

Diversity

Within himself, God has both unity and diversity—God is three persons and yet there is one God. In our unique differences and backgrounds, we are wonderfully diverse yet united by the image of God. As a result, we promote diversity of gender, age, ethnicity, economic background in our congregation and will seek to establish a leadership that reflects unity in diversity.

Paradox

God is three persons and yet there is one God. God is intimately knowable, and yet he is totally beyond us in beauty and purity. God has established our path yet given us freedom. The Christian life is full of paradox, and we would rather celebrate and trust God in the paradox rather than seek to question or doubt his nature and his ways.

 

There is no best name for a church. But we think ‘Trinity Community Church’ gives us a great opportunity to hold the historic truths of Scripture in a beautiful way. And in God’s hilarious providence, our first Sunday home gathering (June 11th, 2017) happened to fall on the annual date the liturgical church historically calls… Trinity Sunday.