A halfway decent church will preach and teach a Christ-Centred message. This is as it should be. But, as in all things, preaching Jesus at the centre of life has it’s own pitfalls and one of them is that we keep Him off the other 90% of life that’s lived out on the edges.
Preaching Jesus at the centre means that the account of David and Goliath is not about you learning to become a hero but that Jesus saves us from the dragon and that we are the helpless, knee-knocking Jews on the hill. Preaching Jesus at the centre means that baptism, in the first instance, is not man speaking to God from earth and saying, “I believe…”, but God speaking to man from heaven and saying, “You are Mine” (Matthew 3:17).
Once we begin to understand that Christ is Lord, that He is the central figure throughout all of scripture and history, and that He is to be at the centre of our lives, we then have to decide what those central things are. And here is where things can go wrong.
Imagine that life is a mantelpiece and that all the details of our lives – our job, our lovelife, family problems, Sunday worship, the weeds in the vegetable patch, morning tea rosters, the wife’s shopping trolley, dating rules for teenage daughters, and a host of other ordinary things – are all crammed onto that mantelpiece.
When a person comes to Christ they begin to understand that Jesus should be at the centre of that mantelpiece. But then an odd thing happens. In order to let the light of Christ shine as He should, they push a bunch of ordinary things off the mantelpiece and onto the floor.
That done, the Christian life now consists of a few Christian things. Things like Sunday worship, Bible reading, or prayer, or family devotion, or services rendered to the church.
Now, from a distance, it all looks very Christ-Centred and good. But all those other things – the other 90% of life – is all still there, only now it’s all on the floor and you are walking on it.
We know that we need to deal with the clutter (Mark 4:19), and that Jesus should be on the top shelf with, and we allow ourselves one or two other unobjectionable activities like church, or family, or stamp collecting – provided you don’t let it get out of hand, like having more than fifteen stamps, which could be idolatry.
When this happens we have become the victims of a very subtle trick, one worthy of the father of lies. “Just make sure you always have the centre fixed on the gospel. Nothing more is needed.”
That sounds pretty good, but it only means that the devil knows how to lie by omission.
We actually must do two things. The first is to make sure that “Christ and Him crucified” is right at the centre, the absolute centre. Yes, and amen.
But the second thing, without which the first is just wind and confusion, is that we must make sure that the centre bleeds all the way out to the edges. It must touch, govern and transform all those other things lying on the floor.
The gospel, which is at the centre, must be at the centre of a big circle, not a teeny tiny circle that only includes church camps and Tuesday night Bible study.
Gospel-centered, Christ-Centred, sounds great, but we need to follow up with the question, “The centre of what, exactly?”
The answer has to be the centre of all, the centre of everything. It means bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This includes our thoughts about politics, marriage, hair salon appointments, Sunday dinners, neighbours, pruning, parenting and everything in between.
Jesus Christ is Lord over all things. Acknowledging this means more than just adding a prayer to our next family BBQ or ladies’ day pedicure. It means reading the scriptures with a serious mind and drawing from them how Christ calls us to live and act and think in all of life’s circumstances so that He is magnified.