HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL LOVE

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
 

Today, we celebrate “Ash Wednesday,” the beginning of Lent, where Christians around the world begin a season of prayer, fasting, and charity giving that ends on Holy Thursday. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection at Easter. One of our main focuses during this Lenten season and throughout the year should be ‘to love like Christ.’

A Pastor once asked his congregation, “Are you a horizontal or vertical person?” The reason behind the question is that loving God is vertical love. Loving others is horizontal love. Jesus showed His disciples how vertical and horizontal love are intertwined in practical ways. While our relationship with God is based on faith alone, He warns and encourages us that how we treat people affects our experience with Him.

Christ tells us that the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Then, the apostle John tells us that no one can see God loving because God is invisible; therefore, it is extremely important that we love one another because the only demonstration of God’s love in this age is the Church. So then, the only way the world is going to experience the love of God is through the Church.
 
Therefore, it is equally important that we realize that our horizontal demonstration of love is a manifestation of our vertical love for God. In Matthew 25:34-40, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; I needed clothes, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison, and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothes? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Christ says that we do to Him as we do to each other. In other words, we cannot profess to love God and not demonstrate love for our brothers or sisters.
 
So then, the measure of a church, in addition to its preaching and teaching of God’s Word, is to have an environment of spiritual connection where people have the opportunity to love one another. You may ask, “Why is this so important?” Because God is love. The word of God tells us that if we do not know how to love God’s people, then we do not know God. Love stems from an intimate fellowship with God, and the more time we spend with God, the more we look and act just like Him.
Written by Donnis Prass