Imagine that you receive an invitation to an elaborate dinner party. Dressed in your best clothes, you arrive and see a table laden with delicious-looking food; excitedly, you notice some of your favorite dishes are present. You fill your plate and put the first bite in your mouth and taste…nothing. You taste bite after bite, dish after dish, but find that you have completely lost your sense of taste.
Or pretend that you have bought tickets to hear your favorite symphony play. You are positively giddy as you get in line at the theater, show your ticket, and find your seat. You see the conductor take his place, raise his baton, and as you see the orchestra strike the first chord you hear…nothing.
Can you imagine your disappointment if you lost one of your senses unexpectedly? Without one (or more) of your senses, you could not experience the world around you to it’s fullest potential. You would definitely feel like you are missing out on something–and the truth is, you would be!
The Triune God
The same is true when it comes to our spirituality and relationship with God. If we do not understand all parts of Him, then we are missing out. And, while in our sinful, human state, we will never be able to fully understand the splendor of our God, we must do our best to never stop seeking to know Him better and more deeply.
If we look into the Bible, we see the God reveals Himself to His people in three different ways: as Creator God, through the person of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. “Each of these revelations corresponds to a specific way in which we can experience God” (Schwarz, 2001, p. 11).
The diagram below demonstrates how each part of the Godhead is distinct, but still one entity. Just as white light shines through a prism, refracting into different colors, so God (one Being) reveals different parts of Himself: God the Creator/Creation is depicted by the color green, Jesus and His sacrifice on Calvary is represented by red, and the Holy Spirit/Pentecost is shown in blue. We refer to this as the “Triune God.”
An Unbalanced View of God
Unfortunately, when it comes to many churches today, there is a lack of integration between the three areas. It is possible for churches to be very focused on one color area while neglecting the others, ultimately leading to a lopsided view of God. An understanding of the Triune God is central to the health of a church–or person, for matter. Only when we understand all three parts of God can we experience Him to the fullest.
While many churches have an unbalanced (one-colored) view of God, they have the ability to integrate the other colors. Creation, Jesus’ death on Calvary, and Pentecost are indispensable parts of a healthy, balanced, and, most of all, biblical faith. Without a thorough understanding and integration of each aspect you are, in a way, experiencing God without one of your “senses.”
The Three Dimensions of Ministry
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, the apostle Paul writes:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (NIV)
This passage demonstrates Paul’s awareness and understanding of the different dimensions of the Triune God, as well as discussing the role that each entity within the Godhead plays. Christian A. Schwarz, founder of Natural Church Development, explains:
Spiritual gifts are related to the Holy Spirit (blue area). Service is related to the Lord, a term that in New Testament usage usually refers to Jesus (red area). The third term is a little more difficult to grasp: the working (we could also translate “effects”) is related to God (put into the terminology we have used so far, this would be God the Creator and thus belong to the green area). (Schwarz, 2001, p. 15)
Just as we saw that each member of the Godhead contributes to our complete understanding of God, each member has a different role and operates in a different dimension. Only when all three roles (colors) come together do they paint a holistic view of God.
This “division of labor,” if you will, looks something like this:
- There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. – This area represents power and is shown in blue on our diagram.
- There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord (that is, Jesus). – This area is demonstrated by commitment and is shown in red on our diagram.
- There are different kinds of working, but the same God. – This area represents wisdom and is shown in green.
While each of these dimensions is of vital importance in how we experience and represent the Triune God, the dimensions cannot stand alone. Just as one part of the Triune God cannot work independently of the others, one dimension cannot be used without the others. A fruitful life and ministry follow this simple equation:
Power + Commitment + Wisdom = A Fruitful Life
Until we understand all three aspects of God and the role that each one plays, we cannot fully develop our relationship with Him. By becoming more aware of the Triune God and the role that each member plays, we can begin to know and understand Him better.
Schwarz, C. A. (2001). The 3 colors of ministry. St. Charles, IL: ChurchSmart Resources.