God has been teaching me this year about the inextricable connection in relationship to God and people. Try as we might, we cannot separate the health of our relationship with God from the health of our relationships with the people around us. I have heard it described before that our relationship with God is directionally “vertical” and our relationships with one another are directionally “horizontal”. Describing our relationships with God and people this way is not a “wrong” picture or metaphor, but for me, it has become more and more inadequate. For a long time in my life, I pictured relating to God as something separate from my relating to people, and that I could only do one at a time- jumping back and forth between the “vertical axis” and the “horizontal axis”. Then a new word came into my vocabulary… “Horizontical”- the merging of relationship with God and people (I’m pretty sure it’s not in the dictionary). 🙂
This word is also insufficient, but it has helped me to close some of the distance in the way I think about relating to God and people. Any one word is insufficient to attempt to describe the things of God, that’s why Jesus used many stories…”The Kingdom of God is like a garden, and it’s like a wedding, and it’s like a master who entrusted His servants with His estate…”
While an individual’s relationship with God is a unique and separate thing from a relationship with another person (e.g. I would never say that my relationship with my husband is my relationship with God), the health of those two relationships are inseparably connected. Here are some things that the Bible has to say about our relating to God and man…
“Anyone who claims to be in the light (walking rightly before God), but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness (walking outside of the the way of God).” 1 John 2:9, NIV
We know the most important commands in the Bible, on which all the law and prophets hang, are to love God and love people…
“If someone claims, “I am in intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and stranger to the truth. …Anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2, 4 & 6, The Voice
These passages humble me in an instant and remind me that I am poor in Spirit. Poverty of spirit is the realization that I can do NOTHING good apart from my connection with Jesus. As the words on the Waverly Vineyard church wall remind me every time I am in the building… “‘I am the vine, you are the branches’… apart from Me you can do nothing” John 15:5.
Jesus, I NEED YOU! WE NEED YOU! It is our confession that apart from You we have no good thing. We are NOT good on our own, and other people are NOT good on their own. We are dust and ashes without You. With You we are the Beloved Children of God! With You we are heirs of the Kindgom of God! I release Your JOY and ASSURANCE over each one of the family of God. Strengthen us with might in our inner man that we might be led by Your Spirit in everything.