I live in North Syracuse, NY, and I have lived here for 31 years…sometimes depressing to think about. In all the long years that I have lived here, I have never really seen God act in a way that turned this village upside down. I have been involved in numerous churches in the area, some by serving in ministry and others by just attending. And though all of these have people that are passionate about God and Leaders too, most have not changed the neighborhood they live in. Many of you reading this will feel like writing me off at this moment, but if you could please read the whole blog before making your judgment.
With regards to up, in, and out, which I have discussed previously, most of the churches that I have been involved in have the up part down. That is they are centered and focused on God. Lots of good sermons, many small groups , Sunday school classes, Awana, and so on…Sometimes this focus if not balanced with in and out can lead to legalism, or on the other hand, can lead to lives that are not concerned with holiness, and just with inviting people to Jesus, regardless of how they live. But also anywhere in between these two extremes. What I have learned in the past recent years through many a good discussion with a close friend, and many a good book, is that the Christian life is a whole lot more than just information. We need information to carry out the next stages of in and out, but all three have to be together to live a balanced life that Jesus modeled for us and asked his disciples to do the same.
Moving on…now before I suggest as you might believe I have done already, these same churches have been involved in out and in. I have engaged in inward community before, however once again these groups typically resemble more information gathering than exposing each others lives together to reshape and form our character in such a way that it resembles Christ. Which to put quite simply, is love others before yourself . The ability to be “truly human” as NT Wright states, having lost your need to be selfish and learned the true joy of being selfless. This type of in that I am describing is not done in a small group, but done by sharing life together in community. And because your character is what you do when no one else is around, means you need to share life together in such away that you expose your real self,and not the one you put on in your church settings. This involves risk and reshaping the rhythm of your life. But as your life becomes centered on Christ with the up, and sanctified by Christ with the in, it will eventually shape your out, being on mission with Christ.
On to out…once again I know many of the churches I have been involved with have had outlets for out living. Whether they be mission trips or park clean-ups, they have had them. Yet out lifestyle is not about events, but once again about a rhythm. Difference is a rhythm is part of your life eg.. Groceries , gym, cleaning, etc. But events take planning to restructure your life to allow an event to fit. This outward piece, that is to say : out to the world, is the element that changes where you live. But without proper structuring and balance with the other two, and only focusing on out, this would not do anything. Out, without in and up, looks very hypocritical, and though you may be doing justice, the justice you model looks like the world and not Jesus. In other words for example, someone doing community service looks like someone doing community service, and a Christian who is about reaching out to his community and swearing, and doing drugs while doing it, does not come across the right way. What ends up happening is they look at you, instead of looking at Christ who we are suppose to be a reflection of. Don’t misunderstand me. Reaching out to others does make a difference, but without the in and up, it does not point them to the true source of hope and the one who really can make a difference, that is Jesus.
So something I learned recently was, what is God saying and what are you going to do about it? Well I for one am realigning myself to be balanced , and as I look around North Syracuse I once again see a lot of churches and a lot of unchurched. And I don’t know what to do, but know I am suppose to do something. And though many of the churches in the area are our source of up, and maybe in, this does not state that we cannot partner together to some out. I am beyond denominations and want to be a reflection of Christ here where I am now, and my hope is anyone else around this area will too.
Hey I am a nobody that has lived in an area for 31 years, and as I discover what and how to restructure my life and change my rhythm, I don’t think I am alone. But I know after 31 years living here the area has not changed too greatly and if I would guess its because we focus too much on up, and not enough on in and out. So here is my call to you, What is God saying to you?And What are you going to do about it? As for myself I am going to begin a journey to reclaim North Syracuse, NY. And if your in the area and want to join, let me know. I am ready to change my rhythm , are you?