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What is 3-D Christianity?

Let’s imagine God’s mission as having three dimensions: communioncommunity, and commonwealth.

Communion is the dimension that emphasizes God reconciling humanity to himself through Christ’s work on the cross (2 Cor. 5:17–20; Col. 1:21–23). Christians are commissioned as Christ’s ambassadors of this reconciliation, to bring people back into communion or fellowship with our God. Those who emphasize personal evangelism are most at home with this dimension of God’s mission. They remind us that Christians must never lose sight of this calling.

Reconciliation with God, however, is inseparable from reconciliation with one another, … . In Christ Jesus, God has “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:13–18). “The point for us is clear: If God himself took away the only division that he had ever made within the human family [Jews and Gentiles], how much more have all other man-made divisions within the human family been taken away” (God’s Diverse and Unified Family, 19–20). Christians who emphasize social activism and justice work rightly see this community-creating dimension as an indispensable part of God’s mission.

Third, God is through Christ reconciling “to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven,” into a cosmic commonwealth of sorts (Col. 1:20). Jesus is the Lord of lords over all things “visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” (Col. 1:16). … Creational care and redeeming our cultural institutions and thought patterns are also part of God’s mission.

Conflicts arise when we fail to recognize each dimension’s importance or validity. Instead of working in tandem, we argue over our different conceptions of God’s mission. …

For a fully effective mission, I believe we need all three dimensions. To adapt the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1–23), without the sowing of communion seeds there can surely be no spiritual life. But the work of creating good soil conditions—creating just and loving communities, establishing a God-glorifying commonwealth of ideas and institutions—can only increase the likelihood of spiritual fruitfulness. We can reduce the potential impediments to spiritual growth: the rocky places of broken communities, the thorns of injustice and inequality, and the birds of hostile worldviews that prevent understanding of God’s Word. If we work together rather than against each other, will our missional effectiveness not increase?

Excerpts from “Mission in 3-D,” The Banner, Jan 2018