I am revved up about vertical church and have been for years but never knew what to call it. So thankful that Roger gave that name to James and persuaded him to write Vertical Church. (I think that’s what Roger told us last Sunday). Being vertical is everywhere in the Scriptures, on every page. It’s about God! About Jesus Christ the Son of the living God! It’s critical to everything!
Psalm 123 has only four verses but shows the significance of being a vertical church. It begins by saying that we have focused our eyes on God who is “enthroned in the heavens.” He is the focus of our gaze. You cannot look on him who is enthroned in the heavens without looking up, going vertical! Its like slaves who look to their master or mistress in total dependence; they look to the hand for from the hand comes blessing (note the use of “mercy” throughout this psalm). Like them, our whole focus is on the master, the Lord, with total confidence that the master will have mercy and give us blessing.
Here’s why that’s important: these people are in a tough situation. In verses three and four he says twice “we have had more than enough” of contempt and scorn. Are you there? Are you tired of what’s going on in your life? Have you had more than enough? You need to understand something. The contempt and scorn that these people were experiencing, the hard things that you are dealing with; these things are not the battle! These are just life’s circumstances! They are hard things! They’d had more than enough and that meant it was still going on. But, the battle is about faith, not circumstances. Those in this psalm have already won the faith battle! They had their eyes fixed vertically on him; they were going to hang in with God until one day he would relieve their suffering or have mercy on them.
The psalm is a perfect illustration of a truth from Jude. We are in a war over faith, not over a lost job or disease. The victory comes when we cling to faith in the teeth of the storm. Jude says, "keep yourselves in the love of God." Through faith in Jesus, God brings us "into the presence of his glory with great joy.” It is the vertical focus on God that keeps us in his love, defeats the enemy, and God receives all the glory. And then…he sends us back into the camp of the enemy to rescue them.
Are you fighting the faith battle or the circumstances battle? Only when we go vertical to the God of “glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, now and forever” will the battle be won, and it is God who will win it. Read Psalm 123, and the short book of Jude in preparation for Sunday. You can find the set list for worship here.