At Least I’m Vertical…
Yesterday someone asked me if I was having a good day.
“Every day I’m vertical,” I replied with a chuckle, “is a good day.” I wasn’t joking.
Vertical means I’m alive and healthy. You can stand a corpse upright but without props he’ll crumble to the concrete like a rag doll. Death sucks the life right out of you. A healthy person stands, but when you’re sick you’ll naturally go horizontal. If you’ve got the creeping crud, you just want lay low and flat to ride out the fever, migraine or cramps. Sometimes I think the American church is infected with the “Whine Flu.” I’ll let you decide to what degree. But there are some Christians who look like they’ve been sucking on lemons and sitting on razor blades. Others have gone from singing “Standing on the Promises” to just sitting on the premises. I preached in a church like that one Sunday. The worship service was stuck in an ecclesiastical time warp (think “church circa 1975”). The average age was just shy of Methuselah. Literally, and figuratively, it was a congregation on life support.
Vertical also means I’m awake. Most humans find it best to snooze horizontally. In fact, it’s hard to sleep standing up, unless you’re leaning against something firm and even then your knees buckle, your head droops and before you know it, you’re lying on the ground in a pool of your own drool. Maybe that’s the problem. American Christians have largely fallen asleep at the wheel, especially in regards to culture. Some will rant about Hollywood, Vegas or Madison Avenue. Others will refer to an end-time script that’s playing out, as if the rapture is a spiritual “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. Still others finger the abortionists, gays, Democrats, Occupiers, CNBC, Bill Maher, rock ‘n roll, National Education Association or some other cultural institution as the cause for all social ills. Rarely do they poke the logs in their own eyes, because, if they did, they might wake up with a splinter.
To be honest, I’m tired of sleepy “churchianity.” I want something more radical and righteous, dynamic and dangerous than warming a pew (or is that “pee-uuu?”) every Sunday. And the more I read about the first-century Church, as described in the book of Acts, the more I wonder what put the contemporary Church to sleep. Who pushed the snooze alarm and how long will we doze? Everything about the apostolic church was alive and awake. They were VERTICAL to the max. Tongues of fire from above. Coming up from the water of baptism. Stephen looked up into heaven. Peter went up on his roof to pray and a vision was let down. Paul caught up to Paradise. It was a Church that stayed up, prayed up, gave up, made up and looked up. It was a Church of Community, Grace, Joy, Peace, Hope, and Salvation. People who didn’t live vertical died in that type of church (remember Ananias and Sapphira?). People actually feared them.
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. (Acts 5:12-13)
The Vertical Church is culturally dangerous. Christianity is the ultimate “alternative” lifestyle.
Are there churches and Christians like that around today? Absolutely.
You just have to be alive and awake to see them, and it won’t happen lying on your back with your eyes closed.