To become the kind of community that we strive to be, it is essential that we learn how to look in three distinct, but interdependent, directions: in, out, and up.
This may seem simple enough, but if we are honest with ourselves, there is usually one direction that dominates our time, both personally and as a community. Moreover, when pushed to defend these rhythms of life, we inevitably argue for our own natural tendency.
In reality, every human being is designed by God to find knowledge and understanding in each direction. Like you, I am created in the image of God and God wants me to know myself, to know others, and to know him.
To answer these types of questions I must look in, look out, and look up. The answers I find in conversations with God, conversations with others, & conversations with myself will build upon each other to help me find true truth. If I fail to consider in any direction, my picture will become incomplete or warped.
As a church community we malfunction if we look up, hearing from God, but never act. We malfunction if we look out, caring for others, but neglect ourselves. We malfunction if we only look in and our Christianity begins to look more like a therapeutic self-help seminar than a church. We malfunction if we bring the gospel to others, but never know the God of that gospel for ourselves.
So ask yourself these questions: In what direction do I need the most help looking? In what direction do the churches in our city need the most help looking? In what direction do my friends need the most help looking?
At Sideris we try to integrate all three directions of consideration. However, research shows that our postmodern society tends to raise up citizens who are most resistant to vertical appeals for truth. As such, we focus on expressions of LOOKING UP.
Likewise, the local church helps us look up. But the church should also lead and equip the community to compassionately look out and intentionally look in. We should be the model to the rest of the city of what balance and excellence in all three areas looks like. The result will be love for self, love for others, and love for God. They will know us by our love (John 13:35).
In word and deed we live in each direction. We will become more fully human and more fully the Church. But remember, progress is not usually gained by simple reduction (in an area of strength), but by building capacity, intention and focus in the less natural modes.
Healthy individuals living in healthy communities paint a beautiful picture of who God is and what he has purposed for us to be and do. So let us seek health and good living by imitating Christ; we are: