I am currently reading James MacDonald’s book Vertical Church. It contains a powerful challenge to be the kind of church that leads people to encounter God’s glory and not just man’s experiences. The fact is most of us have a horizontal orientation. It is interesting that in our quest for meaning and fulfillment, our focus usually leads us to focus on horizontal things – things that are beside us and around us like relationships, success, money, and experiences. Focusing on the horizontal things of life is very natural. The only problem is that the horizontal things of life are not the things that bring lasting fulfillment. God has made us to be vertical first.
When James MacDonald said that everyone is longing for transcendence, I had a sense of agreement deep inside as I knew that I too long for something bigger and more adequate than myself. That something is a Someone. As a pastor, I long for my congregation to encounter God’s glory as we meet on Sundays and to reflect God’s glory as we live throughout the week. One comment in this book that caught my attention is this: “God won’t do through me what He can’t do in me. It’s easy to sit back and wish my church was more Vertical, more powerful, more culturally penetrating, more glorious…but do I want this for my own soul? Will I let God do in me what I long to see God do through me?” The fact is my church can’t be vertical unless I’m willing to be vertical. This is true for every Christian. If we want vertical churches, we must be vertical Christians. We will find that when our vertical relationship with God is right, every other horizontal relationship and experience will be right. If we are not vertical first, then we become like King Solomon who said, “All is vanity.” All is not vanity if God is first.