Helps us to understand the 2 dimensions of change:
- one from suffering to flourishing /succeeding (bottom to top), which can help lead us to move in an upward direction
- the other dimension (left to right) moving from self-centred/sin to God centred. Knowing this can help us to choose to let God have more influence and have a closer connection in lives
Some questions for you: How have you been over this week? How much has the life been God centred compared to self-centred? What do you look like in the top right and quadrant – God centred flourishing? What difference is God making in your life? What do you you need to do to grow and be more like Jesus? How have you been going in your personal life and in your relationships?
Print the Square.
The place of flourishing/success (the top row). is above the water level, while theplace of suffering (the bottom row) is beneath the water level.
The place of moving toward the practice of sanctification, holiness and God centredness is shown in the right hand side column. God centredness does not guarantee success or flourishing. Indeed following Jesus often invites suffering (bottom right hand quadrant) a Godly suffering
The place of sin. evil and its consequences is on the Left hand side. Top left-hand people/organisations put down or let down (into the bottom left hand quadrant) other people in order to lift themselves up. This is the problem of oppression. Top left-hand churches preach a prosperity gospel which in essence says, “come to Jesus so that you will prosper.”
The place where God intended life to be, and where we should aim at, God centred flourishing is the top right hand quadrant.
The Bible. Genesis 1 and 2 (Eden) and Revelations 21 and 22 (heaven) depict the top right hand quadrant of God centred flourishing. There in Eden, the command was to flourish even more – to go and multiply and take mastery. (Genesis 1:28. God blessed them and told them, “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters …”). When sin came in to that quadrant Adam and Eve moved to the left-hand side (self-centred success) and suffering (bottom left hand quadrant) ensued.
Job was living in the top right and quadrant, known to be a close follower of God while still flourishing. Not for reasons of sin at all, but in the context of what was going on in the heavenlies, he went to the bottom right and quadrant, the place of God with suffering. His counsellors mistakenly thought that Job was in the place of suffering due to self (bottom left hand quadrant). Job’s insistence on his righteousness in itself became self-centred, from which, when he saw God, he himself had to repent. A lot of the Psalms have been written from the bottom right and quadrant, as have many of the hymns of old.
In God’s strange design, himself took on the form of Jesus and came from the top right and quadrant, right down from heaven, and right into the bottom right and quadrant, coming the beat and even to death (Philippians 2). As Charles Wesley said, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the saviours blood, died he for me who caused his pain, for me who him to death pursued!? Amazing love, how can it be that thou my God should die for me?”
Top right and quadrant is defined by those who go down to bring up. Top left-hand quadrant of those who let down or put down in order to raise themselves up. Heaven is the final possession, where there will be no more water level as it were with no more suffering. Revelation 21:1 (NLT). Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone.” (In Greek the sea refers to Chaos). There would be nothing in the bottom row, under the water level in terms of suffering. Revelation 21:4. (NLT) “he will remove all of their sorrows and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.” In addition, to be nothing on the left-hand side in terms of sin and evil. Thus that verse ends with, “for the old world and its evils are gone forever.” It is truly a right hand sided place where, (Revelation 21:3 NLT) “Look the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.” Finally, it will be very much above the water level – heaven was hardly a shack, that’s an amazing place with incredibly expensive gems and jewels! Eden with its river of life running through it and a tree of life there (Revelation 22:1, 2) is now restored. There is nothing but top right and quadrant.
Throughout the scriptures we see that as people repent and become God centred, they also rise to top right hand quadrant living. They then become self-centred (top left) and consequently suffer. Of the 40 Kings after David and Solomon, only 2 lasted to the end on the right-hand side (Hezekiah and Josiah). (That is a 5% success rate!) The prophets tended to live a lot of their life in the bottom right and quadrant.
Personally, I find that the square challenges me by showing me the big picture of the parts of my life that are above and below the water level (functional and dysfunctional) and the parts that are self centred compared to God centred in my journey of sanctification, from the left-hand side to the right-hand side. The square helps me to become more real about how often I do actually sin, which then becomes the first step to help me to come to the foot of the cross and repent (as described in the next section).
In terms of priorities regarding the 2 dimensions of change. While it is important to develop and to succeed, the square reminds me that it is more important to be like Jesus, and live a God centred life. This is the process of, “sanctification”. The square helps me to recognise that when I’m going well, I can become proud and self-centred and forget God. This pattern is described so often throughout the scriptures, as noted above, particularly with the Kings. What a challenge for us to continue to move to the right-hand side throughout life!. I can place all of my circles on the map of the square, challenging myself about where various aspects of myself are located. As mentioned, here I can be more honest. I can ask myself questions – am I falling and suffering below the water level, or succeeding above it? Am I God centred or self-centred? For me the top right hand quadrant living is when I go and give to others in whichever quadrants they may be. If I am below the water level in either of the lower quadrants, I can receive from others and from God. The most dangerous quadrant is the top left one – the place where the Pharisees were, the place where Jesus could rarely go. Here, I am doing well on my own and not giving what I have, to those who struggle beneath the water. Here, I might let others down or put them down, instead of from the top right and quadrant when I go down (like Jesus would) to bring them up.
In terms of my plans, the square with its 4 quadrants helps me to see the map of the journey of my life in practice. This map tells me helps me to plan where to go. It is a journey towards the top right and quadrant, a God centred, positive and successful place. This map reminds me that I have not arrived at the top right-hand corner, where heaven is (as described in the last 2 chapters of the Bible, Revelations 21 and 22). It also makes me aware of how often I drift into the left-hand side of the square, as mentioned above. The square helps me respect those who have spent time in the bottom right and quadrant, suffering but focused on God. Many of the great hymns of old were written as a result of difficult times in this quadrant, from which arise a vivid connection with God. There is a need for modern christian songs to be written from this place, at the bottom right hand quadrant.
In the church context, the square emphasises the need for the interaction between those who are doing well, succeeding and flourishing, to go down to those who are suffering and struggling (below the water level). The church is a place where everyone should be involved, in either giving or receiving. The church is the body of Christ and the body is. It is a place where everyone can be. The more relational the church setting, the more the expression of reciprocal interaction within the body of Christ. In this context, then there will can be a meeting of those who can give with those who can receive. This is much more likely to happen in the context of small groups and twos and threes.
With family and friends, the square gives me a vision, and a direction to build them up and assist them on their journey towards the top right and quadrant, to a place of God centredness and positive living. Particularly in my marriage, I want us both to inhabit this place together. My plan is to be constantly moving our marriage in that direction. Using the square, I can now have a map to locate where on the journey my wife is, where I am and where our marriage is heading.