The cross is both vertical and horizontal.
Vertically, we connect to God. Horizontally, we connect with people.
We must realize that our relationship with God (the vertical) directly affects our relationship with people (horizontal). Vertical and horizontal relationships are both critical and necessary.
God is in heaven and we are on earth; consequently, our communication with God is vertical or upward. The vertical relationship is the most vital relationship because it produces eternal results and helps with all horizontal relationships. How we approach God, how we view God, our respect and reverence toward Him, our obedience to scripture…how we pray and how often we commune with Him…how we walk in faith and obedience…all affect our vertical relationship with God.
When we are morally and spiritually right with God. all other relationships will balance out in the right horizontal direction.
The horizontal relationship is how we get a long with people. Our friends, neighbors, family, co-workers, even those we struggle to get a long with…all are included in our horizontal relationships.
It makes the most sense that when we are in love with God, the more like Him we become. We begin to love the things He loves and hate the things He hates, and in turn the more we can love those we live and work with.
God is the Creator and man is the creature; we must never lose sight of this fact. The creature must always remain submitted to the Creator, realizing that the maker of something is greater than the thing made.
When Jesus summarized the Law in terms of “loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength” and “loving one’s neighbor as himself” (Mt. 22:37), he specified a sequence of priority that cannot be reversed without serious consequence. The person who puts “loving people” before “loving God” will inevitably circumvent Scripture to please others. When my heart is right before God I am equipped to properly interact with others. When two people are each in fellowship with God, they have the resources for a fulfilling relationship with one another.
If you find your horizontal relationships strained, take the time to examine your own vertical relationship.