EXPERIENCING THE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL
ASPECTS OF THE DIVINE FELLOWSHIP
The reality of the divine fellowship is one of the most neglected things among the believers. It is hard to find many who are in the reality of fellowship. Positionally, we all are in this fellowship, but in our daily living, very few of us are in the reality of fellowship. We may have the matter of fellowship in name, but we may not have it in practicality. I have tried to practice this fellowship, but I have to admit that I have not been completely successful in maintaining this fellowship hour after hour throughout the day. When we are not in this fellowship in a practical way, we are out of the Spirit, out of the Triune God, and out of the divine life.
Before we were saved, we were sinners living in sin and dead in sin. We were not involved in the fellowship of life. One day someone reported to us the eternal life (1 John 1:2), and we believed in the Lord Jesus. From that moment we were brought into the divine fellowship. Two things are very striking about our initial experience of the divine fellowship. First, it is difficult to find one person who believed in the Lord directly by himself without the help of someone who preached the gospel to him. Nearly everyone heard a report first and then believed. Second, there is almost always a deep relationship between the one who reported or preached the gospel and the one who received the report and got saved.
Many years ago in mainland China, I preached the gospel a number of times to large congregations, and many people were saved through me. Because I preached the gospel to them and they were saved through my preaching, many of them felt intimately related to me, even though I never talked with them personally. My point in relating this experience is that there is almost always an intimate feeling between the person who gets saved and the one through whom he gets saved. I cannot forget the female evangelist through whom I was saved. She will always be so dear and precious to me because through her I was brought into the divine fellowship. Her preaching of the gospel to me was related to the horizontal aspect of the fellowship of the divine life. After receiving her word, I went to the Lord and was brought into the vertical aspect of the divine fellowship.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
THE VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL ASPECTS
OF THE DIVINE FELLOWSHIP
There is a close relationship between the vertical and horizontal aspects of the divine fellowship. Our vertical fellowship with the Lord is affected by our horizontal fellowship with others. If we do not have a proper relationship with those around us, it is difficult to have a good fellowship with the Lord vertically. The reason for this is that the divine fellowship is one fellowship. Each day we should be in the divine fellowship, vertically and horizontally. Most of us may think that we daily start this fellowship according to its vertical aspect, followed by its horizontal aspect. Most of the time, however, this is not our experience. Since most of us have spouses, other family members, or roommates living with us, our fellowship usually begins in a horizontal manner. If we have a quarrel with our wife, husband, or roommate in the evening, we will find it difficult to start our vertical fellowship with the Lord in the morning. We must maintain both the vertical and horizontal aspects of the fellowship in order to be healthy spiritually.
In Ephesians 4:25 the apostle Paul said, "Wherefore, having put off the falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." In this verse the word neighbor refers to the brothers and sisters. We must be right with our fellow believers in order to be kept in the divine fellowship. In our experience we often cannot have vertical fellowship with the Lord without first having horizontal fellowship with other believers.
(The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)