Attitude and Altitude

Almost forty-seven years ago, I was standing in a student lounge at a Bible Institute I attended and heard a question asked by a basketball teammate of mine. I really don’t remember the subject of the conversation but Bruce asked, “How’s your altitude?” That’s right, ALTITUDE not attitude.

Over the years I’m beginning to see the connection between the two. I used to get irritated when someone would say believers (me) sometimes are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. Ever hear that one? I understand that when someone uses what I’ve called God Talk as a means to control others, or stiff arm people because they’re not in the Christian subculture of which they live. And yes, I think sometimes that happens and we might not even know it. But Bruce’s question has stuck with me for almost a half century!!

Somehow I see that I can’t separate the one from the other. In other words if my attitude is poor, my altitude or relationship with Jesus is poor. This is not about having a poor attitude because I have the flu, am troubled physically or getting older.

In James 2, the author talks about altitude/attitude issues as it relates to showing a forbidden favoritism. That’s a moment when people are separated out by a person as being better than others, or having something they want from them. So they cater to these people for meaning and an identity that satisfies them. Another term describing this attitude with no altitude is being users of people.

The Modus Operandi for mature believers is about not showing favoritism or discriminating with believers or anyone, for that matter, as if some are different and better than others.

Years ago I was an associate pastor in a Sheboygan, WI church. One Sunday, a man in a wheel chair came up behind me and beeped his wheel chair horn. I got out of his way and he parked that baby right up front like that’s where he belonged with the non wheel chair folks. Can you see Jesus in that moment? Jesus loved you and me. The whole world! He wants everyone to know they are important to him, which is why we look at the cross he died upon and say, “He was no respecter of persons.” How glorious! How’s your altitude today? Bruce’s question is a good one.