“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15-16)
Many people seem to think of Christianity solely as their own personal relationship with God. That personal relationship with God IS essential in true Christianity, but it is also not the whole story.
In Ephesians 1:15 the Apostle Paul commends two specific things he has heard about the Ephesians: 1) their faith in Jesus, and 2) their love for all the saints. Here we find expressed two relationships which are vital for Christians: one’s vertical relationship with God, and one’s horizontal relationship with other believers.
BOTH of these are essential for healthy Christians. Jesus told us that the Great Commandment is that we love God. (Matthew 22:37) This is the indispensable, vertical aspect of our faith. We must be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Knowing and loving Him is the primary aim of our faith.
But Jesus also said that there was a second Commandment which was “like unto it”: “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Here He reminds us that our faith is NOT only about our vertical relationship with God, but also very much about our horizontal relationships with others.
Healthy Christians will focus on BOTH of these aspects of their faith. They will draw near to God through faith in Jesus, and walk with Him every day in His word & prayer. But they will also purpose to remain in fellowship with other believers, and minister to people around them.
Christianity is very much about loving God — but it is also very much about loving His people, as Paul reminds the Ephesians — and us — here. Would those observing YOUR practice of the faith be able to commend not only your faith in Jesus, but also your love for His people? Is your Christianity both vertical, and horizontal?