- If the doctrine of the Trinity is true …
- so that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed for eternity …
- as individuals in complete communion with one another …
- and if we’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27) …
What does this suggest about our design as persons?
Were we created to be in constant intimate companionship, relationship, and love?
When God created Adam, He said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, even though he had God’s presence. God offered him each of the animals as companions, to no avail (Genesis 2:18-20). This result didn’t surprise God but showed Adam that he needed Eve.
But why wasn’t God “enough” for Adam?
Could Adam and Eve in “one flesh” be a model of intellectual, emotional, and yes physical intimacy as a pattern for a proper relationship with God?
- The Original Sin of the Fall had the eternal consequence of condemnation (Romans 5:18).
- It also had a physical consequence of death (Genesis 2:16-17).
- But Original Sin had relational consequences, too: both separation from God and discord among humans through the conflict of Adam’s rulership of his wife and Eve’s submission to her husband (Genesis 3:1-19), which was part of the punishment.
Could their pre-Fall nakedness without shame (Genesis 2:25) have been due to having a pure, open mind?
Could their post-Fall hiding in shame of nakedness (Genesis 3:7-11) be due to the closing off of that intimacy?
What if the relational consequence of sin is really a prison sentence of solitary confinement for our minds in our heads?
I’ve long thought of the Bible as the story of how God is gradually reintroducing Himself and revealing His nature to us.
In the beginning (post-Adam, pre-Abraham), God was an absolutely foreign, terribly powerful, utterly unknowable “other”: the Divine Creator of the universe (Genesis 1). He could be known from His creation to be awesome and creative (Romans 1:20) but we can’t really relate to this side of Him.
To Abraham, God revealed Himself to be absolutely holy, unable to tolerate sin (Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 18:20, Genesis 19:24). But He also demonstrated His willingness to show mercy (Genesis 18:16-33). He made covenant promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and went on to fulfill these promises. But in the role of Divine Judge and Executioner, God is still beyond our ability to identify with.
When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He proved Himself to be the Divine Deliverer and Provider (Exodus 6:1-9, Exodus 16:4). He taught them His Law and disciplined them when they went astray, becoming their Divine Father — finally something we can relate to. But even a father is a somewhat distant relationship, lacking the peer element necessary for true friendship.
So God became man … and thus Jesus became God Among Us (Matthew 1:23). Then we could relate to Him as a fellow human and friend. And we also realized that He could identify with us since He experienced — not just observed — what it means to be human (Hebrews 4:15). Then He went on to model perfect submission to God and to teach us the sacrificial nature of true love (Hebrews 10:10-14). In Christ we could actually relate to God!
But even relating as peers (however unequal we may be) is nothing compared to the complete intimacy shared by the Trinity for eternity.
Once Christ left, He sent the Holy Spirit as a Divine Counselor (John 14:26) — to teach us, lead us, convict us of sin, and empower us for obedience. As temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16) we got a partial reprieve from our solitary confinement in the form of a loving Prison Chaplain.
No longer were we alone in our minds. No longer was God far away in a temple or on some holy mountain. No, now God lived with us, inside us, as part of us.
Now this stage of God’s self-revealing had been hinted at long before, with the voice of our conscience. But you don’t have a love relationship with your conscience.
And perhaps we should have anticipated a Divine Mental Visitor: We humans frequently rail in our heads, complaining about injustices and our circumstances. But what is the point of yelling in an empty room? Of course there is someone listening … now we can hear that Someone speak.
In the last year I’ve come to think of the Holy Spirit as my “not-so-imaginary friend”.
Children sometimes invent imaginary friends for companionship. They may have conversations — and even arguments — with their imaginary friend but they can never learn from them. Ultimately they’re just talking to themselves.
But the Holy Spirit is real.
He not only observes but also experiences everything we go through. He listens to our thoughts, feels our feelings, loves us deeply, prays on our behalf, and guides us to grow in godliness.
Our internal dialog with Him is actually prayer — so long as it’s a dialog, with us listening for His response (whether direct or merely a peace about the correct choice). This is how we fulfill the mandate to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:16-18).
But we still face relational conflict with God: The two voices in our heads seldom agree.
We’re back to the classic conflict of Adam and Eve: on one hand struggling to submit our selfish wills and on the other struggling to lead with godly sacrificial love.
Even though we singletons have never experienced the marital power struggle, we have faced the same issues in this internal battle of wills.
- We want to want to be submissive to God’s will (Psalm 51:12).
- But what we really want is autonomy, independence.
- Remember, the Original Sin wasn’t eating forbidden fruit, it was rebellion — “You’re not the boss of me!”
I struggle with submitting my mind to God’s will so much more than submitting my behavior. It’s like my will is my identity … except it isn’t.
I know my desires are corrupt and I wish they were otherwise. So how can my identity, my self-definition, not want to preserve itself? It can’t.
My will is not me. No, my hope for godliness rejects my sinful will and is a truer measure of who I really am.
But back to the story …
What could be the next step in our mental rehabilitation?
What happens when we’re released from this corruptible flesh and are raised incorruptible (I Cor 15:53)?
Perhaps the doors of our solitary confinement will be blown away and our minds will be completely open to one another.
The Sadducees tried to trip up Jesus with the story of a hypothetical widow who was passed from brother to brother as each died in succession (Luke 20:27-36). They asked Jesus whose wife she would be in heaven. His answer was something like: “You just don’t get marriage. There won’t be marriage in heaven.” (Please forgive my liberal paraphrase.)
This story always disturbed me: Would I miss out on the whole marriage thing if I couldn’t even experience it in heaven?
But maybe marriage is just an earthly glimpse of the complete intellectual and emotional intimacy we will all share in heaven.
If so, perhaps being a singleton will ease my transition into the Kingdom because I’m not locked into the jealous intimacy of an exclusive two-person club: “He’s the only person I can really be myself with and I’m the only one he can completely open up to.”
As a nerdy hermit spinster with a desperate desire to be known, I suspect in heaven I’ll not only be “not ashamed” of my mental nakedness (Genesis 2:25) … I’ll probably be a mental exhibitionist!
The Bible says that in heaven we’ll know God as completely as we are known by Him (1 Cor 13:12). Maybe we’ll know each other just as completely.
How amazing it would be to know people without all those walls we build around ourselves!
Can you imagine having a powerful “soulmate” connection with everyone you meet?
Now all this “open mind eternity” shouldn’t be confused with the “hive mind” of a single puppeteer or the eastern mysticism idea of melting into the universal “life force”.
The Bible always treats us as individuals, values us as individuals, and even describes us that way in heaven (Revelation 21:3).
No, this open-book mental community would be filled with individuals — we’d be even more individual without those commonplace masks we all currently wear.
Now I’m not claiming prophetic knowledge that this whole “community of open minds” is actually our eternal destiny … but it certainly rings true to me.
I’d gone to bed about 3:20 am with my sweet butterball kitten Pepper and was cuddling with her, telling her how much I loved her.
I’ve often wondered if we’ll meet our pets in heaven. I mean, the first Eden had animals, so why shouldn’t the restored Eden?
If animals truly possess individual personhood (psyche in Greek), I don’t know why they wouldn’t end up in heaven as some of God’s beloved creations. On the other hand, if they’re just furry puppets, animated by God, I think we’ll still have a joyous reunion in heaven — only this time with the person behind the furry personalities.
This got me thinking about meeting the God who gave me all my precious fur babies and what it would be like to meet a single person who embodied all of them.
Now meeting God is an unimaginable thing.
But meeting the mind of all my beloved pets brings it down to merely indescribable. My heart would just explode with love.
Even if animals do have personhood, God is the one who gave them their personalities and gave me the experiences … so I’d still gush / melt / explode with love.
And this got me thinking about meeting other people in heaven, of connecting with them (their minds) in a similarly intimate way.
I apologized to Pepper as I turned on the light to capture all the thoughts of nearly 40 minutes lying in bed. So I wrote down the material for this post from 3:58 to 5:05 am this morning.
How silly that I had to imagine meeting my pets in heaven to make meeting God seem more real! I’m crying just anticipating it.
Plus I have a new conception of heaven and a new peace about my failure to find a husband and raise a family. God is truly good!
Turning off the light now at 5:16 am.
(Typed up hours later with minimal revisions from the quickly scrawled original.)