The Vertical and Horizontal Paths

Ephesians 2:13–16 (ESV)
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."

We as Christians often view our faith as one from a vertical perspective—we have direct communion with our Father whose throne is in Heaven. Thus we look upwards to Him in our devotion, in our worship, and through our petitions. But by His grace, He also communicates downward to us. Christianity remains the only major religion where God came down to man as opposed to other religions where man is reaching upward towards a deity (or deities), trying to earn favor through good works and exemplary living.

In today’s study, we see Paul explaining that the work of Christ did away with the legal ordinances of the old customs and through a new and everlasting covenant, established a reconciliation to the Father if only one will confess Jesus as Lord. This vertical reconciliation was not the only direction written by Paul: Christ’s work on the cross is for everyone who will receive Him, both Jew and Gentile. Thus, a horizontal reconciliation is now to be embraced.

As it was 2000 years ago, so it remains today. We cannot neglect our horizontal relationships and focus solely on a 1-on-1 with God. That’s not the direction He gave us. As John 13:34 states, we are to love one another just as He has loved us. Sometimes I feel this is harder for us than to love God. This is further clarified in the other gospels as well (c.f. Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).

Even among the Christian fellowship, we are more quick to point out areas of contention rather than focus on beliefs we share. The thought of Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and so forth sitting down in Christian love seems much a fantasy. Let alone Christians and non-Christians. We instantly cloak ourselves in self-righteousness instead of expressing brotherly love.

God desires peace among His children and makes no distinction of race or any other division man has imposed. We are to be reconciled to one another and it is only through the One who brought us peace that this can be made possible. Paul makes it clear in v. 14 that the walls of animosity are broken and we are all one before Him. How quick we are to rebuild those walls, though.

His earthly ministry was one of peace and His death on the cross created the horizontal path for us to build fellowship with one another through the common bond of His blood.

Let us use this passage of Scripture to unite not only the church, but to help reconcile those on the outside to come and share the blessing of being a child of God. Put on the humility of Christ and reach out to a lost and dying world today.

Explore your own horizontal paths laid out in front of you.