There are over 7 billion people living on this planet. Unless you live in a very isolated cave, it is hard to avoid other people. They are everywhere and they are an essential part of our lives. We all are involved in relationship in one way or another – our survival depends on it. Most relationships are complex, and involve various layers of activity, communication, and emotion.   I believe that one of the primary purpose for humans on this planet is relationship.

A newborn baby instinctively desires the physical connection with its parents. Without positive, solid connection from caring, nurturing adults in the first years of life, a child will develop attachment disorder – which is characterized by a difficulty in forming lasting relationships.

Even if they do not have attachment disorder, I have observed that many men have difficulty connecting on a deep and meaningful level with other men. They may claim to be Christians and have an apparently strong vertical relationship with God, but they do not have open and honest horizontal relationships with other men.

I believe that Christians are called to “love the Lord their God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37. However, this is not some purely “spiritual” practice of communing with a supernatural God. Rather, loving and obeying God is carried out daily on a horizontal level – by loving the people He created.

We are called to relationship. The teachings of Jesus are filled with examples and parables of loving other people as the way to show faith, for example the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Many of us have wounds and brokenness. It is part of living in this world. Christians are called to share our burdens and lift each other up.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. – James 5:16

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:10

Being spiritual, worship, serving God – they all have a vertical focus. They draw our attention up and above. However, there is more to it.  Spirituality, worship, and service are all carried out on a horizontal level.

Worshipping God involves other people. Praying for one another. Confessing and listening to one another. Bearing one another’s burdens. Doing good to everyone.   These are the essential ingredients of Christianity. It involves relationship. It involves knowing your neighbors and caring for them. It is horizontal relationship that matter.

What do you think? Is Christianity primarily a vertical relationship with God or a horizontal relationship with other people? What can you do today to improve your relationships with the people in your circle?

About John Forrest