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Which Way Is Your Face?

That’s a great question for a church! We head where our faces, well, face! So which direction should a church point its nose? I tend to think the answer is that we are called to be four-faced. The “direction” of a church can never be just one way. A vibrant church faces upwards, outwards, sideways, and, with caution and on occasion, inwards. 
First and always we look upwards to the Triune God. “Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion,” says Amos. “Look upon him and be radiant,” says the Psalmist. “Set your hearts on things above where Christ is,” wrote Paul. We use upwards in relation to God to acknowledge that God is the reality, and he is always more than we are. God is not just an internal spiritual part of us. He is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by whom all things were made. You can tell how a church faces upward by how that congregation admires Jesus, the face of God turned toward us.
We look sideways because Jesus connected loving him to loving one another. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” That’s the truth! We want to be a church full of people who look at each other. In such a way that we see how it is with one another. We regard, listen, respond. Our sideways face radiates love.
The inward look is tricky. Because we can, like Narcissus, get enamored with our own reflection. Or mired in our own needs. Or stuck in our old shames. The proper inward look takes time to a) confess our sins and repent of them, and b) notice all the blessings of God and give thanks for them. We always need to grow in awareness as individuals and a church body. But never to stay stuck looking inward! Our inward look drives us to look up to Jesus, sideways to each other, and . . . 
Outward to the world. A hurting world wants to know, “Do you see me? Do you drive around me or come to visit me? Do you bask in the warmth you have with each other without opening the circle or extending the reach?” I’m always proud of our church, but I especially admire the relentless outward facing. As individuals, you are aware that every day you enter the mission field of your life. You know that your work is part of caring for the world. You look for opportunities to love and serve in every situation. And as a body, we push outwards in mission.
We’ve been blessed with abundance. We have an endowment. But your leaders make sure endowment income from our Foundation faces outwards. Last week the session released $79,000. We’re supporting five seminary students training for either church ministry or Christian counseling. We granted a Russ Stevenson Church Planting scholarship to a pastor beginning an EPC church in Smyrna, GA. We also reached across continents, making a grant to our partner church in Cairo for youth training. And we began what we hope will be a long partnership with EduNations, an evangelistic ministry in Sierra Leone of which Scott Graham is current board president. We’re showing our face in Baton Rouge, across the country and around 
the world. 
You have a beautiful face, dear church, as it points all four directions!