“But seek first the kingdom of God…” (ESV)
There’s a relationship between the vertical and the horizontal.
By “vertical,” I mean your relationship with God. Time and time again the Bible describes this as the primarily relationship in your life.
And by “horizontal,” I mean your relationship with the people around and beside you.
Do you remember learning about the “order of operations” for math problems? The basic idea is that there is a proper sequence to working through an equation. If you get it wrong, it impacts every subsequent sub-problem and messes up your entire answer.
In life, the same principle applies. If you don’t get the vertical relationship right, the horizontal relationships suffer. They are collateral damage from messing up something fundamental in the order of operations.
Even as I say this I know it’s easy to say and hard to do. It needs continual work. It’s easy to neglect the primary vertical relationship because we simply can’t see God.
But when we give the vertical relationship priority, I think God does something for us. He gives us perspective in our horizontal relationships. Here’s a more succinct way to think about it:
When the vertical gets priority the horizontal gets perspective.
When the vertical gets priority, your big problems may not go away, but they’ll shrink a bit.
When the vertical gets priority, you may still get into disagreements with people, but you won’t feel the need to be right all the time.
When the vertical gets priority, the society around you will still be troubled, but you’ll be quicker to envision yourself as a part of the solution.
It’s as if God says, ‘The bigger I am to you, the smaller your problems are to you.’
When the vertical gets priority, the horizontal gets perspective.
By Matthew Ruttan