A Devotional Thought on Christ-Centeredness
By Jane Tawel
June 7, 2016
As a lot of Christian businesses and churches do, at my work place we talk a lot about being “Christ-centered”. Do we know what that means?
What does “centered” mean? The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is “having a central axis” and we Christians must believe that our “axis” goes through the whole earth. Our axis is the cross of Christ. That central axis of Christ’s cross is true and it always points due North. So “centered” means our life compass points due North through the cross of Christ.
What does “Christ” or Cristos mean? The Greek word “Cristos” means “the anointed one of God, The Lord”. The overriding biblical meaning of Christ is the anointed KING. So we are saying that we in this place, in this world, in this nation, city, office, house, in this community– serve Jesus the Cross bearer – the God-image bearer — as The King of the World. We serve. Jesus spoke a lot about himself as the King and what His Kingdom and His followers were like – or where, and how and what His Center would be.
In John 18:37 We find Jesus confirming his kingly identity to a mere politician of this world, one who will soon put the Ruler of the Ages, The King of All Kings to death on a Roman cross. Jesus tells Pilate. “For this was I born.” To be the King.
To His first disciples, Jesus offers no cheap grace. No excuses. No alternatives. If you want Jesus to be the center, if you want Him in charge, if you want to put His name on your propaganda, if you want to be Christ-centered, then you must do as He says. Which of course would include the whole testimony of YHWH, all the laws and prophets, and God-spoken words which we find in the Old Testament. Jehovah’s law was Christ’s law. “I came to fulfill the law, by my Kingly rule in my upside down Kingdom.” God’s word was in Christ– The Word –from the beginning. God’s word IS Christ. The Word of God in Christ is the Center of the universe, of time, of our history and of eternity.
Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do as I say?”
Jan Victors in “The Anointing of Jesus” writes:
To use the word “Lord” displays an attitude of obedient submission to a greater power. Jesus seems even to expect that those who call him Lord obey him. To his listeners he asked, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) To call him “Lord” or to call him Jesus “Christ” is to say that he is the King that God has sent who has a right to reign over us.
This has implications about how we define ourselves as Christians. Usually, we talk in terms of doctrines and beliefs, but the very word “Christ” calls us to more than assenting to a creed. If Christ means King, a Christian is one who considers Jesus his Lord and King, and submits to his reign. (Victors, OurRabbiJesus.com)
So what does that mean? Well it means that our number one thing on our renewable daily “To Do List” is that, day by day, moment by moment, we live as if only Jesus were around and as if we were the only Jesus around – as if the image of God that was in Christ Jesus is in me. You are created to be the image of the unseen God just as the True Image Bearer, Jesus The Christ, was and is.
At my Christian school the faculty was asked to discuss the new and revised “Statement of Faith” that we all must sign. There were several folk who were discussing our Faith Statement and remarking that to them, the word “evangelical” which was used in several places, means different things to different people. Not to put them down in the slightest, but let me just tell you what “evangelical” means to me.
Being “evangelical” means that I live as if the very most important thing in all the earth is the human soul. My soul. And Your Soul. And that because my soul was created before time to be eternal. Ephesians 1:4 assures us that “even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”
The Human Soul, which is every thing that sets us apart from all else, our mind, our heart, our will – that “very good” thing that God created is a valuable and valued thing to the holy, living Creative God, three in One, YHWH, Jesus Messiah, and the Holy Spirit alive in me.
Because of that, because I was bought with the greatest price a God can pay to redeem a human soul from the weight of sin, the agony of death, and the curse of eternal separation from the Creator – God paid that price through His only Son with His death from the weight of my sin and as a propitiation on a cruel cross – because of that, then I must take to heart that what the bible says is true about the King and His eternal kingdom – a Kingdom established before Time, real in the present, and fulfilled with a new heaven and new earth in the future.
So what does The King say about how His redeemed should be centered in Him?
John 3:3 – “You must be born again. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a human is born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Matt 16:26 – For what shall it profit a woman if she gains the whole world but forfeits her soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 19:23: And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matt. 23:25 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
When is the last time I asked the King to point out the dirt inside my cup? When is the last time I confessed my greed and self-indulgence?
We live in beautiful vessels – healthy, well dressed, nice colors of skin. At my school, we claim to have Christ “in the center” of what we proclaim to be the most beautiful high school campus “of its kind” in the San Gabriel Valley. But what “of its kind” is this place?
No matter if we call ourselves a Christ-centered school, or Christ-honoring church, or Christian nation, or a Jesus-Freak– If we are putting things on from the outside, with statements and policies, creeds and lifestyle statements, fields and uniforms, trophies and landscaping, higher grades and deeper benefits, winning streaks and more free food — but our insides—the soul of us so to speak — are not washed clean by the blood, are not purged from sin, are not daily under the ministrations of His nail-scarred hands, then we are hypocrites. If we choose to hide or ignore the dirt – if we are more self-centered than Christ-centered – then what is at the center of us?
You know when you get those candy boxes and you aren’t sure what filling is inside – so you take a bite and quickly spit it back out because it is some ooey gooey fake berry filling and not the lovely caramel and nuts you had hoped for? Our King says if His Bracingly Cold Fresh, Clean Living Water is not at our center – or if His Hot Purifying, Bathing, Cleansing Water is not at our center, then like a stale, icky Sees “lukewarm” candy, God will spit us out.
In Revelations 3 Jesus says as much to The Church at Laodicea – but He could be saying as much to me.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
So here is my last “evangelical” word for now: He knows our centers. He formed my center. He adores your center. And He knows if Christ is there. I can’t put Christ’s name on the outside – it needs to be from my inside. We are commanded not to ever use The Lord’s name in vain – and in vain means I give Him credit He doesn’t want. It means I am really pushing my agenda ahead under my own steam, but just to make sure I want to use – in vain–without really turning anything over to Him – I want to use the power of His Holy Name – in case. Usually it means I put His name on something that rightfully belongs to this World’s kingdoms, and policies, and politics and powers. When my compass is off, then rather than journeying the central axis that leads due North, I am not only not centered, I am spinning around in circles, with an ever changing, ever confusing center. I’m off center, not Christ- centered. No matter what I wish were true.
The King wants to know us for who we were best created to be – not okay, not so-so, the best. And He longs for us to know Him –Jesus Messiah– The Center of the Kingdom, The Center of it All. “My sheep know my voice.”
In Matthew 7: 21-23, Jesus looks at the human souls before Him in the final judgement and speaks these chilling words: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Evangelical? Definitely.
When I hear that from the Center of the World, I am very afraid. It’s sobering news. But it’s also good news! Because nothing else matters if you have Christ in the center. It’s doesn’t matter who will run this nation – that is peripheral – It doesn’t matter who wins the game – it’s a game. What matters is – the King is in the Center. “Ring around the King –We all fall down – and worship.” Evangelism means I ask every one: Is He in the center of your soul? Right now?
Jesus is very clear about how we are to live for Him. We are to crucify ourselves (Gal. 2:20) We are to put others before our own desires — even our enemies – we are to not to merely tolerate, not be simply nice, not even to chivalrously turn the other cheek – we are to love others, even our enemies, as Christ loved us. (Matt 5:44) We are to love God, YHWH, the Holy God with every part of our being – heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27). And we are to worship the Lord, the King – as a King above all kings and Lord above all lords. Rev. 19:16 on his robe and on his thigh it is written King above all kings and Lord above all lords.
I believe evangelical means that I can not shut up until every one knows intimately as a bride knows her bridegroom — the ruler of this universe – my King Jesus – until—
10 at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11)
I believe Christ- centered means I submit to the king as a servant of all and that I allow my soul to be refined for eternity, for if Christ is not in the Center of this very moment for me, then He is certainly not in the center of a place – school, family, nation, business office, house, or church building – all of which will pass away as all temporal things will.
If Jesus, The King is not sanctifying my innermost parts into His image daily, then He is certainly not at the center of my job, my family, or my friendships. With everything the world has to offer but without Christ in the Center— I am nothing. But Christ in me, means I have nothing in this world but everything in God.
We should be sobered – and elated both – that the description of The Christ that we are proclaiming to be in our very inner most centers comes from: Philippians 2:6-11
6 Jesus, The Christ —who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,[a] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If today my soul were a piece of candy, what would be in my center?