The fact that God is Three-in-One not only leads us to the wonderful and mysterious conclusion that God is social and relational – a community of being – but also that there is in Godself an equally wonderful and mysterious space between. (1)
The Three Persons, by God’s very nature “are really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties…this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has his own subsistence distinguished by characteristics – yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God. Nevertheless, these persons, thus distinct, are neither divided nor fused or mixed together.” (2)
There is a space between in Creator which is therefore also to be found in created. Such recognition is an invitation for missional leaders to learn to live in the open-endedness and ambiguity of spaces where we don’t have all the answers and yet we are in relationship with one another, the rest of creation and our Trinitarian God of this space between.
Jesus In Between: Incarnate Friend
This Divine space between also invites us to reflect on the Son who by becoming one of us stepped into the space between Father/Creator and humanity.
The Incarnation affirms for us the wonder and mystery of a God who is willing to make Godself vulnerable, available and graspable such that we also discover in ourselves space between. As the Christ took on flesh, so our flesh bears the Divine image and is God-breathed from the moment of our createdness. (3) Furthermore, Jesus, the Incarnate One not only embodies this space between but enlivens and directs it as the great Shepherd in the midst of the sheep and the High Priest who mediates, reconciles and makes a way in the space between for His flock of followers to do the same.
His Body then is made and called to be priests living in this space between for the sake of the whole of creation. (4) Consequently, the role of the Christian leader is not to stand over and above such a space but rather to inhabit it, like Jesus who led from amongst, naming his followers, friends. (5) Missional leaders nurture authentic friendships with those whom they seek to lead; coming alongside; serving one another in community with mutual trust, honour and love.
Missional leaders thus do not impose their views but rather seek, listen to and receive the gifts and insights of all.
This is not a posture of command and control from above but rather of side by side and even underneath for as Jesus’ teaching and example demonstrate, friends lay down their lives for one another. (6) Missional leaders can do no less.
(1) A term employed by Dr. Alan Roxburgh, Dmin 7616, Northern Seminary, July, 2013.
(2) Guido de Bräs, The Belgic Confession, Article 8, 1561.
(3) Genesis 2:7.
(4) Romans 8.
(5) E.g. Humbling Himself by taking on the role of a servant, touching lepers, eating with “sinners”, healing the sick and demon possessed and coming alongside the “unclean”; calling us friends. John15:14,15.
(6) John 15:13.