Changing perspective to see the startling message!
I have explained in previous Blogs that the Nicene Creed was the fourth-Century Church’s attempt to combat heresy. But to focus on the negative can cause us to overlook the good. In this Blog, I will take a stab at mentioning the good message in the Nicene Creed – just a stab, because there is so much there that it would take many lengthy Blogs to do it justice. This shift in perspective will unveil a beautiful portrayal of God and the fabulous message to us in this Creed.
About God, the Father: The Creator of everything, the one true God, is our Father! One may respond, “So what” or “Ho hum.” If that is your response, I ask you to consider this question: Why does parental design permeate all forms of life on earth? Every lifeform has a parent. The answer: God the Father created material lifeforms after His parental mold. The intimacy that we experience as parents and see expressed in nature between parent and child is but a microcosm of the love of the Parent of all. This parent, not only a dada or mama, combines all of what we think of in father and mother. That is why “Father” is such a powerful title of God. Unlike concepts of pagan gods, the Father is not distant, aloof, uninvolved, and dissatisfied with His creation; He is not an original and powerful monad. His almighty-ness was, is, and will always be directed favorably toward that which came from Him and is His. Along with mother, there is no more intimate and wonderful title that one could bear.
About Jesus, the Son: This Father has a Son, and both of them are one God. Once again, intimacy is imbedded in the title of this Person, who is Lord of everything. He is special to the Father and the Father to Him through their relationship that has been forever. It was through the Son that the Father created, and it was for humanity that the Son, sent by the Father, willingly left the glory in heaven to become human as we – Jesus, son of a human virgin named Mary; here on earth, for us Jesus lived sinless and, at the hand of humans, suffered death by crucifixion to pay the price for human sins. Such a selfless sacrifice is an indisputable proof of the love that the Father and Son have for us. Then, the Father raised Jesus from the dead and restored Him to glory, where He awaits His promised return to earth as judge of all and King forever! At last all creation will have a great and good King – Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
About the Holy Spirit: The third Person of God, although neither the Father nor the Son but from both, is the Spirit sent forth, who hovered over the unformed creation and imparted life to the inanimate. Jesus called Him the Paraclete, which translates to Advocate – once again, an intimate title of one who is with those who believe to help, guide, teach, and strengthen. As God is to be worshipped so is He, for He is God. It was He who spoke to and gave special powers to the prophets and servants of God, and by that same power the Son of God was impregnated into the womb of the Virgin Mary. Through the Holy Spirit, human believers saved by Christ are united with God and sealed with a promise of ultimate glory. Mysterious, the Holy Spirit is unseen and physically imperceptible; nonetheless the effect of His divine presence in the Church and each believer is evident in the long-term outcome.
About the Trinity: Both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed are structured on the belief in one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend three Persons in one God, but there are many things that we humans don’t understand. It is not at all mystifying that for three Persons to be in one perfect relationship for eternity they must be bound by perfect love and oneness. In fact, the true statement “God is love” could only be expressed in a relationship between individuals involving God. Therefore it is understandable that the true God is one being with three Persons. Amazingly, these three love humanity: the Father sent the Son to save us; the Son willingly came and sacrificed His life to take away our sins, saving us from death and granting eternal life with them; the Holy Spirit lovingly lives in us, transforming us inside to conform to Jesus’ perfect humanity. The triune God loved humanity before creation and created us in love to share in holiness, oneness, and love forever. That is fabulously good news!
About the Church: Jesus built a group of followers that He called “My ecclesia,” translated church in English (Matthew 16:18). Church is not a building or place of worship; it is a group of people who believe and follow Jesus Christ. There is only one Church, the purchased possession of Jesus its Head. Because Jesus is holy, and the Spirit indwelling the Church is holy, the Church is holy. It is composed of people from every tribe and nation, therefore katholikos (Greek) or catholic in English, meaning of the whole or all-embracing. Jesus appointed Apostles to lead it, therefore it is apostolic – it follows the lead and teaching of the Apostles as documented in the New Testament. Despite efforts to divide it that started shortly after its beginning in the first Century, it is one in belief, baptism, and hope. It awaits the return of Christ, resurrection to immortality, and all that pertains to God’s coming new age.
Such news can seem to be too good to be true, but as the creed shouts, we believe!