by Deepak Reju
Life exists on two planes—horizontal and vertical. The horizontal relationship is what goes on between you and your spouse, close friend, or coworker. You talk. You laugh. You grow. You plan. You argue. This is life together. It’s rich and full, and sometimes hard and complicated.
The vertical relationship is between you and the Lord. You sing, pray, and study God’s Word. You fight your carnal desires, sitting on the throne of your little kingdom. Yet, every day you must put to death your demands and subject your will to the King of the universe. Every morning offers new mercies. A fight to believe and trust. With another day comes another chance to worship Christ and submit to Him as your King.
Here’s how life often works. My sin keeps me entrenched in horizontal relationships at the expense of the vertical relationship. I’m far too worried about my child’s sin, my spouse’s sickness, or my ongoing feud with a coworker. Fear. Confusion. Heartache. Horizontal dynamics plague my thoughts, dictate my fears, shape my goals, and set the pace for my emotions. A few moments of happiness, yes, but many days filled with frustration and disappointment.
I strive to be faithful with all that God has entrusted to me—money, work, relationships, and church. But I can’t let these horizontal dynamics become primary in my life. That’s idolatry—the things of this world become first in my heart, while God is relegated to second place (Ezek. 14:4–5; Rom. 1:22–23).
I verbally assent to the importance of Christ. Jesus is King and Lord. He’s my Savior. I’ve said all of these things, plus much more. But look at my life. How much do my work, relationships, and troubles of this life—the horizontal dynamics—rule me? How much time do I spend thinking about them rather than the Lord? Sadly, I can plan a budget, talk with my teenager, or finish a work project, and the Lord barely touches the surface of my life. It’s as if I’m infected with Christian amnesia—I’ve forgotten God, and I’ve let my busy and struggling life push Him to the periphery.
Think about your own life for a moment. How much time do you spend in the horizontal dimensions without any reference to God? Maybe you feel stuck in the trenches and have lost sight of the Lord’s goodness. Your life is not about you; it belongs to the Lord. It’s His glory that matters. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
We fight amnesia by remembering. Sin makes us forget; Christ helps us remember. We read God’s Word to recall God’s sacrificial love through Christ (Rom. 5:8–11). We talk to a Christian friend to reflect on God’s mercies (Heb. 3:12–13). We take the Lord’s Supper to remember Jesus’ body broken and His blood shed for us (1 Cor. 11:24).
Let us not allow the horizontal dynamics to rule our lives. Let us remember, by faith, God’s goodness to us in Christ.