God is love! Our ability to relate comes from Him. God Himself embodies relationship: Father / Son / Holy Spirit. In our brokenness Jesus makes relationship possible - showing us God, but at the same time also showing us what it means to be truly human, i.e. in relationship.
In v9 we see Paul is keen for the Thessalonian Christians to love. The good news is that they do love, having been taught by God to do so. This stems from their original encounter with Jesus, coming to faith, opening the door for God to enter in and bring this into their lives.
This is the 'UP', the relating to God. We want to foster that relationship, be ever closer to Jesus, walking with Him (discipleship). Hence our key 'up' question a few weeks back. Jesus also makes possible love for each other, the 'IN' - modelling community, somehow even showing Father/Son/Holy Spirit in how we live. Hence our key 'in' question last month. And we love others, because love cannot help but ripple outwards, beyond itself (e.g. see v10 and 12). This is the 'OUT' component, with a key 'out' question below.
Together we need all 3: UP, IN, and OUT. Lose one and there will be overall deficiency in how we live and what we do. It all starts with our encounter with Jesus - we love because He first loved us.
The passage continues in v11 against idleness - a theme picked up much more strongly in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 - 14. The original context may have been people not working, and unhealthily depending on others for their basic needs. For our context, however, idleness in that sense is not normally the problem. On the contrary many of us are typically too busy. We work, and let it take over our lives (even to the point of addiction). We immerse our children in activities that run us ragged, rather than finding balance (or rationing!) and resonance with living in Christian community.
So our 'out' question is about our busyness and relationships:
Key Qn: [OUT] Do you make time for relationships?
Challenge: Pray for 2 or 3 people who have little or no faith
Are we intentional with our time, or simply busy all the time?
In v10 Paul urged more love, that will surely propel us out, which is why we talk of life across the city. Do we do this simply as individuals, or can we do it in community, with the up and in components connected in? By reaching out together we can benefit from the diversity of gifts among us, rather than having to rely on just our own.
The actual going out is important, because we know not everyone will come to us. This is about being visible in the community - at least perhaps to a target area or group.
And the going out is being intentional with our time - doing activity for the benefit of others. Of course there is a conflict with busyness here, hence choices have to be made. Do we inform those choices with the desire to develop relationship, a desire fuelled by praying for those with little or no faith?
A group of people who form community, and make themselves visible with outward intentional activity forms a 'Missional Community'. This is the up, in and out components together in people who have set their rhythm and spiritual diet to express love, indeed God, in their lives - setting time to foster relationship with Jesus, each other, and others.