“For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15
The invitation of Jesus is to pattern our lives after His. In the gospels we see a repeated pattern. He spent time with God, He developed relationships with those who would become apostles and disciples, and He ministered to the general public. We call these our Up-In-and-Out relationships.
It plays out in our lives something like this:
We worship, pray, and spend devotional time with God as our “Up.”
We fellowship, the churchy word for spending time with friends, family and even coworkers — the people we regularly do life with. This is our community; this is our “In” in matching Jesus’ pattern.
Our “Out” is sometimes mission work, but most often our “missions” are close to home. It’s how we respond to strangers, how we present ourself to those not in our “in” circle. It’s how we open and share our circle with them.
As Christ-followers we have already said we accept the invitation, at least the invitation of being part of the family of God. Then we must decide it is not just an invitation to accept or reject, but we take on the responsibility as well as the privileges of being part of the family. We have responsibilities and challenges to maintain, strengthen and grow our up, in and out relationships.
We talk a lot at New Life about Up, In and Out. Here’s how a couple of people actually use it!
Marty Peters teaches youth in BreakOut — a four-year program that delves into who Jesus is and who we are in him. Marty’s charges are in their fourth year, and their average age is 11. He’s been sharing Up, In and Out with them from the beginning. He says, “I tell the kids it’s all about relationships (with God, friends and family, and the world). God wants to build those relationships, and the enemy wants to tear them down.” He shares personal experiences and helps them see how it is real to their lives and always can be.
Rachel Lee explains that it is a reminder to her. “Up, In and Out helps me remember Jesus’ way of living in balanced relationships — with his Father (Up), with the people he lived life with (In), and with people in need (Out). I know Jesus’ relationships were perfectly balanced, but I find that mine are often not. That is why I’m so grateful for the example Jesus gave us and reminders that all relationships are important for life.”