The Cure for Horizontalitis

Date of talk: 
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Steve Tweeddale
Bible verse: 
Galatians 6:11-18

This week we looked at Paul's closing argument to the Galatians, imploring them to stop going along with the Judaisers and remain faithful to the true Gospel he taught them. Paul exposes the motivations of their hearts in preaching circumcision – they want to make a good showing in the flesh. They’re teaching the things that they’re teaching, Paul argues, not ultimately to please God, but to please people. They’re not actually so concerned with being righteous before God as they are appearing righteous to other people. 
We gave a name to this condition of the heart – “Horizontalitis”. It’s essentially worldliness. Where our hearts are directed horizontally (concerned with the world and our appearance and position in it) instead of vertically (to God). We’ve all become concerned primarily with the world, looking for glory and acceptance identity in the world, instead of God. We look out to the world for what we were designed to find only by looking up.
We then saw that Paul points out 2 symptoms of this condition that the Judaisers show: fear of persecution and boasting in themselves. Fear is when you think the world might not like what it sees, boasting is when you think the world will like what it sees. They are opposing sides of the same coin; a heart driven by how you are seen in the world. We then ‘translated’ those symptoms as shown by the Judaisers into our own cultural context, so that we might diagnose the condition in ourselves. 
Finally, we looked at how being united with Christ in His crucifixion and resurrection ends Horizontalitis, which is really simply a way of talking about the condition of Sin. We saw that we too, along with Paul, have been crucified to the world, and the world to us, and so we must “consider [ourselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
This addresses fear, because there is now nothing that I have in Christ Jesus that the world can take from me (chief of all my new creation life). I do not need to be afraid. This addresses boasting, because there is now no affirmation, honour or acceptance the world can offer me that I do not already have in greater measure by my position in Christ. Why would we boast in our old selves, when Christ now dwells in us? In our own righteousness, when Christ’s righteousness has been made our own? He is better!

For discussion: 

Some questions for reflection; feel free to pick and choose:

  • Did any of the examples I gave of fear or boasting resonate?
  • Who might your old self fear, and for what reason?
  • Who might your old self boast to, and about what?
  • Read Romans 6:3-11 as a group, and bearing in mind the horizontalitis is essentially a way of describing Sin, consider how these 2 passages relate, and why I made the claim that “Jesus died so that we might die”. Colossians 2:8-15 is another good passage to consider.
  • Finally, you may also wish to spend some time praying for each other along the lines of Ephesians 4:22-24, in order that we would step into freedom from fear and boasting.