Travel back in your mind before the beginning of time, before creation, and imagine a God who is NOT a Trinity. A solitary, all-powerful, self-sufficient Supreme Being. He relates to no one, answers to no one, speaks to no one. He is independent and alone. His thoughts do not go beyond himself, because he is all there is. He knows nothing of relationships, dialogue, togetherness, fellowship, love, friendship, serving or giving. Never does he have to practice consideration, patience, respect, generosity, self sacrifice, compassion, or kindness. He takes no one else into account, because no one else is there. His existence revolves entirely around himself.
If such a God where to create a universe, why would he do so? And what would it be like? What would he expect from us, his creatures?
Would he make a world of people where it’s all about family, community, and relationships? Would he come up with the idea of creating something called marriage where two lives merge and live together in love? Highly improbable. Would he give us the capacity for humor and enjoyment and laughter? Would he establish love as the supreme virtue? Not likely. Would it ever occur to him to become human and to share his glory with us? It probably wouldn’t cross his mind.
If the Solitary Deity should create us it would be to obtain service and worship. He is king and we are the servants; he is great and we are small. Our duty is to carry out his orders. It’s all about his supremacy and our subservience. When he shows up, we bow down. When he commands, we act accordingly. Such a God is to be feared, revered and obeyed. That’s the kind of universe we would expect from the Unaccompanied Monarch who reigns on high.
But, what if this God were actually a Trinity? A community of love and goodness and creativity and joy? What if he were a Triune God—a Father and Son who love each other with eternal passion in the abounding fellowship of the Spirit? We would then expect his creative activity to be entirely different. We would then envisage a world where people experience the joys of marriage and family and friendship, and where love is valued as supreme. A realm where there is joy and goodness and beauty and wonder. A planet of sunsets, butterflies, waterfalls, roses and hummingbirds.
Such a God would create people in his image in order to lavish upon them his love and goodness. And it would not be surprising that, if things went awry, he would respond in mercy and compassion, and, if necessary, act sacrificially to rescue his creation. We could also imagine this Divine Community of love to go even a step further, and invite humans to be part of his family as sons and daughters.
A very different scenario develops when we have a God who is a Trinity instead of a Celestial Caesar. The universe would be diametrically different if we had the one instead of the other. The Trinity turns out to be more than just another item in the creed. It radically transforms absolutely everything.
The Solitary Deity ends up looking a whole lot like the Allah, who rewards killers and terrorists with heaven. The Triune God ends up looking like Jesus giving his life for his enemies on a cross.