. . . 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. —ephesians 3:17-21
The other day I had on my desk 30 recent books written about the church of Jesus Christ. One word describes them all: Horizontal. Pretty covers, catchy titles—one theme. They are filled with practical counsel: How to understand your audience, how to impact the people around you, how to influence them, how to win them, how to assimilate them; what they need, what they want, what we think, what they think. And yet, most of them are based on a fatal flaw: They have reduced the Church of Jesus Christ to a man-centered, human-needs-driven, manipulate-able organization—a horizontal thing.
Here's a word you need to have at the forefront of your thinking: vertical. Somehow we've lost this in the church. We’ve replaced the Biblical idea of the church with the idea that the church is supposed to be about the horizontal—about us.
Before the purpose of the Church was ever soteriological (about salvation), it was doxological (about praise). Ephesians 3:20says: "To Him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ now and forever more."Everything we do has to resound with the fame of the name of God's Son. When that happens, everything else falls into place. Evangelism, discipleship, community impact, ministries of compassion, these things are by-products of a church that is passionately consumed with the glory of God. Vertical is a powerful concept that you need to have at the forefront of your thinking about the work of the Church of Jesus Christ.
The best reasons to be fully engaged in your church won’t be found by looking around, but by looking up! We begin obeying Christ by applying the great commandment to love God—the summary of the vertical relationship (see Mark 12:28-31). When we’ve got that clear, we can tackle the loving neighbor, horizontal thing. Let’s keep the two commands clear and in proper sequence! That’s vertical church. Look up!
When I reflect on the last few Sundays/week-ends in my life, would I say the church has been primarily a vertical or a horizontal experience for me? Why?
What would it take to make my participation in the body of Christ more vertical in nature?
Father, I want to look up, not just to the mountains, but toward You. I confess that my participation in church is often too horizontal. I let my human surroundings distract me from Your divine purpose. So I invite Your Holy Spirit to remind me to look up! Help me do it often enough that others wonder what I’m doing! Teach me, the exciting life of being a member in Your vertical church! In Jesus’ name, Amen.