What hits me first is the horizon, or lack of it. I boarded a plane in a place of distant, stretching horizons where the eye runs out of focus before it reaches golden fields meeting blue sky. Three hours later I step out to a vertical reality; up-and-down mountains, forests and shadows. The horizon is hard to find because it is hidden behind all that is upright. This perpendicular place draws the eye up with spiky evergreens pointing skyward, mountain peaks alight with snow and shadows on shorelines beckoning higher.
I live in the place of stretching horizons but I am from the place of erect elevations. This is a picture of my right-angled spiritual life. Without Christ all I would see is this earth. I would be anchored here in the temporal, only able to believe in that which I perceive with my five senses. It would be a horizontal world view with myself at the center. True, an earthly perspective can reach far, take in many sights, be open to new experiences, but traveling on an orb-shaped planet will always bring me back to myself.
Jesus said to the Jews in John 8, “You originate from the earth below, and I have come from the heavens above. You are from this world, and I am not. That’s why I told you that you will die here as a result of your sins. Unless you believe I am who I have said I am, your sins will lead to your death.”
He is telling the Jews that they need to cultivate an upward perspective. Faith in Christ re-aligns spiritual focus from earthly to heavenly; from horizontal to vertical. A strictly horizontal focus negates the opportunity for an eternal life in heaven, whereas a vertical focus grants a whole new life in Christ.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” – Col. 3:1-5
But the fact is, I still live on an earthly plane so how do I set my mind on things above while functioning in a physical realm? Bible commentary author William MacDonald says, “The Christian should not be earth-bound in his outlook. He should view things not as they appear to the natural eye but in reference to their importance to God and to eternity.”
I think I can do that, as long as I stay connected to the One who broke all boundaries when He came down from His vertical home to live horizontally among us. He saw beyond the sores of the leper, the sins of the prostitute, the failures of the thief. He saw them as important to His Father. If I can catch a glimpse of Christ’s perspective of those He came to save, then maybe I can help them to focus upward.