Vertical and Horizontal

I often refer to the vertical and horizontal aspects of our relationship with God. The love of God, His unconditional grace, righteousness, freedom from guilt and fear, etc., are the reality of our ‘vertical’ relationship with Him.

The horizontal aspect of our faith deals with our relationship with the world. The Great Commission, gifts of the Spirit, forgiveness toward others, giving, serving, sowing and reaping, etc., speak of the expression of God’s love and grace through us to others.

While our actions in the horizontal world do not impact God’s love and grace toward us, they can have their own consequences. For example, though our sins are not being imputed in the divine sense (God’s grace), they may still have consequences in the natural sense. Drunk driving yields the same potential of disaster to both believers and non-believers. Sowing to the flesh still reaps corruption in the horizontal, though it is forgiven in the vertical.

Though God has blessed us with all blessings (Eph. 1:3) in the vertical sense, many do not enjoy those blessings due to lack of wisdom as to how to receive them in the horizontal world. Though there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, there can be self-condemnation for those who do not understand grace and forgiveness.

Sin is not imputed or judged by God because He poured out all judgement for sin on Jesus, but sin carries its own seeds of destruction in the natural realm that can produce a harvest of corruption.

When we don’t understand these two dimensions we can easily get confused and even distressed at the seeming disconnect between the glorious truths of redemption in the vertical sense versus the realities of life in the ‘horizontal’ world. Jesus healed all men by His stripes in His redemptive work, but Christians still get sick and die prematurely. Why? The vertical reality of redemption may not get applied by faith to the horizontal circumstance of sickness. Lack of understanding can be fatal.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Mt. 6:10) This pattern can be found throughout the New Testament. A revelation of the vertical blessing of redemption should equip us for a victorious life in the horizontal world.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (vertical), teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (horizontal). (Titus 2:11-12)

Barry Bennett