Despite what you might think, the title of this post does not refer to kinds of picnics or dances at a wedding. This is the way my friend Bill likes to describe the persons in the Godhead.
I met Bill through his small piano-tuning business. Our church in San Francisco inherited an old baby grand piano that desperately required his services.
Providence brought Bill and I together about 6 weeks ago. We talked the whole time he tuned. Our topics of discussion ranged from the freedom of jazz music to the neighborhood where he’s lived 40 or 50 years, where my family and I had only just relocated.
More than anything else, we talked God and religion and spirituality. I told him my primary motive for moving to SF was to work at this church plant. He found this very interesting and asked what our church taught. I explained the importance of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the ministry of our church, and asked his thoughts on what I shared. He responded that he definitely believed in Christianity, definitely believed in God, but he liked to think of God more in terms of energy, that God is a force that is everywhere, that Christianity is about healing and well-being, that the “Christ-consciousness” is universal, that music was fundamentally spiritual, that the Holy Spirit is too often neglected in Christian teaching and that this accounted for many of society’s problems.
I’d be lying if I said I understood it all. I’d also be lying if I said I had any idea how to respond to him. I invited him to our church, he said he’d love to come hear me preach sometime, and we parted ways.
This past Sunday was my first time in the pulpit at Christ Church, SF. And, sure enough, Bill was there.
Knowing he might come, I crafted my sermon on John 7 largely with him in mind. I made sure to proclaim the truth of the gospel as clearly as I knew how, referring throughout to its exclusivity. I pointed to the fact that Christ is our only access to God, the one Mediator between God and man. And, since John 7 contains a clear discourse on the Holy Spirit, I was sure to expound it in as compelling a way I could.
After preaching, I saw Bill slip out while we celebrated the Lord’s Supper.
The next day, Bill called. He was exuberant, loved what I had said, walked away with questions and lots to think about. He was very intrigued by what he had heard.
My heart leapt within me. Had he understood? Had the Spirit worked through the Word to bring him to a knowledge of the True God?
Not so fast.
While the sermon had given him much to think on, he was explaining it to himself (and now to me) by fitting it into the spiritual framework he already held. “You see,” he told me, “I like to think of God like, there’s God the Father and God the Son – that’s the masculine side – and God the Holy Spirit is God the Mother. And then there’s a fourth one, God the Daughter, and these balance out the masculine. See, there’s four, four quadrants, and these all even out and create harmony.”
I told him I would love to hear more about it sometime. He asked me when I would preach next, and I told him. He said he would definitely be there. I pray he will be.