Many of us have friends with whom we can chat with, walk life with, pray with and generally be open and honest with. I call these kinds of friends horizontal friends. Horizontal friends are more than acquaintances because they are someone we can relate to beyond a surface level. But, do you have any vertical friends? A vertical friend is the same as a horizontal friend. The only difference is I have given this person the right to challenge me to grow to a level in my own walk with Him that I never knew how to do, or simply thought was beyond my capability.
A vertical friend just doesn’t say, “Hey, you shouldn’t really be doing that” but challenges us with a dose of truth and grace. A vertical friend is someone who commits to the person I am being transformed into.
It is so easy for many of us to surround ourselves with horizontal friends but more often than not we tend to shy away from vertical friends. Vertical friends may point out areas that make us uncomfortable. They may even point out areas of our life that we thought we had already dealt with. Although those areas of our life that are exposed through such a challenge can be hard to hear and even harder to accept, we all need it.
There are times in my walk when I may feel like giving up; a vertical friend tells me to keep going. I may feel like quitting this journey God has me on; a vertical friend won’t let me. I may believe lies about my identity or ministry calling; a vertical friend drowns out those lies with truth. There have been several times in my life where I believe God brought men and women into my life to be my vertical. When those certain areas of my life were exposed, I was challenged to make the necessary and hard choices of growth. Of course, I could have denied those areas existed. I could have claimed that they were being judgmental towards me. I could have even become defensive in my response to their challenge. I need – we all need – those few people, those close people, those people who see us for who we can be. Those people are who we need to be our vertical.
So, why do I use the horizontal and vertical analogy? Because when I see the cross I see Christ as both my horizontal and my vertical. He is someone I can talk with, someone I know who will always be there for me, and someone I can relate to. He is my friend. He is my horizontal. Yet, He is also my vertical. Living life for Jesus means that there will be areas of our life that will be pointed out as needing to be brought into alignment with the new creation that we are in Him. Holiness and righteousness are not characteristics that come easily to us as mere mortals. Rather they are characteristics that are a reflection of that which we should be taking in and surrounding ourselves with: more of Him and less of this world.
You probably have many friends in your life who are your horizontal. Who in your life have you invited to be your vertical?
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