Christ at the Core
March 27, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for April 2015. God Centered Life Ministries began last December (2014), with the vision of ‘a generation living for God.’ Evangelicals Now caught up with David Melilli (executive director) and Josh Moody (senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton and founder and president of God Centered Life Ministries) regarding the launch of God Centered Life Ministries. This is the conversation: DM: Tell me a little about the passion, vision and motivation behind God Centered Life Ministries. JM: When I was going through a particularly difficult spot in ministry a number of years ago, I wrote a letter to a couple of different senior Christian leaders requesting counsel. One wrote back with a rather different kind of note. It was lengthy, appealing to various Bible texts, and gave me good counsel about some practical matters. Inside the letter he had also written out, and put on a card, a quotation that he heard from the Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones: ‘What matters is not what you feel is true about yourself at any moment but what you know is true about God at every moment.’ He had underlined the words ‘feel’ and ‘any’, as well as the words ‘know’, ‘God’ (double underlined!) and ‘every’. The message from this reply to my letter was quite clear: you matter enormously and when you feel like you don’t, remember the God who loves you. Another touchpoint for me would be the words John Stott said when he was preaching at Cambridge University. I was the ‘president-elect’ of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, so I had just had supper with the great man. I was so nervous talking to him that evening that I think I put my foot in my mouth in that conversation at least three times! His sermon was, as ever, crystal clear, logical and compellingly biblical. I remember that at one moment he came off his notes and paused as if thinking. ‘You know,’ he said (and by that time he seemed to me to be almost extraordinarily aged which gave his following words especial weight!), ‘if I had my life to live again, I would live it all for Christ.’ Then he stopped as if considering, and said with force and conviction: ‘If I had a thousand lives, I would live them all for Christ.’ Somewhere buried in my mind those two quotations from those two great men have influenced me into wanting to call people to rest in the beauty, power and peace of the gospel of God: Christ crucified, risen and glorified. That message was taught to me as a teenager listening to masterful expositions by Dick Lucas in London, emphasised by parents who were far wiser than I realised at the time. Most recently it has been reverberating in my mind and heart with this text: ‘For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.’ (2 Corinthians 4:15). In other words, I want to see a generation living for God. God Centered Life Ministries is all about giving inspiration, credibility, compelling biblical foundation to live for God – in a way that is contemporary, connected, gracious and joyful. I think there is an especially important moment now – as we seek to ‘understand our times’ – for us to call a generation of us to live passionately, with conviction and credibility, for the God of the Bible. DM: God Centered Life Ministries sets out to engage churches, colleges and culture. Do you think this three-pronged approach is particularly strategic? How do the priorities relate to each other? Why not simply focus on equipping church leaders or engaging college students? JM: It would be absurdly ambitious to attempt to do all three, or even any of them singly, if the goal was to do it ourselves, or launch programmes that will do all the ministry. We are seeking to engage conversation and give biblical teaching around these three areas. I think they are interlocking: the pillars of our society, and the necessary components of ongoing health and witness, even revival, are interrelated to the Bible being heard in the areas of church, college and culture. The impact that college and universities have upon the secular mindset is well-documented. It is equally well-understood, at least among Christian leaders, that the church plays a pivotal (if not the pivotal) role in advocating and exemplifying the cause of Christ. Culture is a more nebulous term, but is here one of our strategic engagements because there is so much need for thoughtful, strong, gracious Christian involvement in matters in the broader culture of our day. The diagram on our vision page depicts really well how these three interrelate around the central cause of Christ himself. DM: What are some of the biggest opportunities you see in this particular ministry? JM: A lot of what we will be doing initially is web based. The technological revolution gives biblical instruction the capacity to go around the globe through a browser, or a cell phone. We want to maximize that. We would like to be able to provide speakers for ministry events, college missions, conferences, as well as publishing material on the foundational principles of God Centered Life and around its three initiatives. DM: We can all agree that a life centered on God is best. Can you give an example or two of why it is so critical to put God at the center of culture, church and the academy? Talk a little about the interaction of these areas. JM: In this I think it is important that we all continue to grow to ‘believe what we believe.’ That is, while at one level most self-identified Christians would affirm the importance of living for God in some way or other, what that actually means in practice can vary so widely that it may be difficult to know when it is actually real or genuine. I am always encouraged by Peter, because he so often made mistakes and yet was so greatly used by God. In Peter’s great confession of Jesus as the Christ he is – I suppose we could say – affirming that at some level Jesus is the Lord and the King and he is going to follow him. However, when very soon after this, Jesus begins to fill out what it means for him to be the King, and then what it means for Peter and the other disciples to follow Jesus as the King, then it all begins to get a little more complicated. Peter cannot quite swallow the idea of a crucified Messiah, or even a cross-bearing disciple. So in practical terms it is important that we are honest with ourselves, and with each other, and seek to live as we believe; that the way of Christ is the way of life, that it profits a person nothing to gain the world and lose his soul, and it is the real and true life to center our lives (even sacrificially) around God. There is also a profoundly important apologetic, related to both college (or university) and culture. That first paragraph above is more about church matters, and living as a Christian. But understanding that a life lived for God is the best life (that if we had a thousand lives we would live them all for Christ) is a message that is not being heard by our culture. It is also a message that is not being believed by our universities. We are to proclaim that Christ came to give life and life to the full, and show how real knowledge and real flourishing comes from surrendering to the Christ King Jesus. DM: What kind of resources can we expect to see from God Centered Life Ministries? JM: The website contains an ever expanding set of resources for a generation living for God. And, God willing, there is more to come. Find out more about the ministry at www.GodCenteredLife.org.]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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