Living a God-Centered Life
January 29, 2015
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
God Centered Life Ministries is pleased to welcome Dr. Keith Johnson to the blog today. Keith is an associate professor of theology at Wheaton College. You can read his bio here. Let’s say we want to live a God-centered life. How is this kind of life possible? And what does it actually look like to live this way? As we consider these questions, the place to start is with Jesus. A God-centered life will be a Christ-centered life, because Jesus himself stands at the very center of our relationship with God (1 Tim 2:5). A Christ-centered life is shaped by two core convictions. The first conviction is that Jesus Christ is alive. As Christians, we do not follow a dead example but a living Lord. God raised Jesus from the dead, and he sits right now at the throne of God. But Jesus does not simply sit around. This is the second conviction: Jesus Christ is working right now on our behalf. The Bible describes Christ’s ongoing work as his intercession for us: “Jesus Christ, who died, yes, who was raised, and who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us” (Rom 8:34). The crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ “lives to make intercession” for us (Heb 7:25). He is actively working for us in line with God’s eternal will and plan. We experience the effects of Christ’s intercession for us through the work of the Holy Spirit, whom both Christ and the Father sent to help us (John 14:16; 15:26). The Spirit is the agent of Christ’s personal presence in our lives, and among other things, he gives us a share in Christ’s own knowledge of God. “But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory . . . these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor 2:7, 10). Paul describes this as having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). These insights put us in position to answer our first question. We are able to live God-centered lives because the crucified and risen Jesus Christ works in and through us by the power of his Spirit. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul says, “and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:19-20). It is Christ who lives in me—if Christ lives in us, then our lives are going to reflect his mind. Paul gives us a description of what this looks like: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Phil 2:3-6). This gives us a concrete picture of what it looks like to live a God-centered life. God-centered people are humble rather than conceited. Just as Christ did not come to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), God-centered people seek to serve. They do not take advantage of their own rights and privileges, but instead, they use their rights and privileges for the benefit of others. Even though God-centered people are free in Christ, they do not view their freedom “as an opportunity for self-indulgence,” but instead they are free to “become slaves” to others (Gal 5:13). One way they do so is by actively looking for ways to bear other people’s burdens at their own expense (Gal 6:2). They imitate God by living “in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:1-2). They glorify God by welcoming others, especially those who of a different race or social class, by showing them the same kind of hospitality Christ showed them (Rom 15:7). And above all, they love other people in a way that reflects the love God showed in Christ (1 John 4:7-12). The amazing thing is that none of this requires elite training or special skills. You don’t have to be a pastor, a missionary, Bible scholar, or theologian to live a life marked by humility, service, and love. The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. You just need faith in Jesus, which comes through the hearing of the gospel (Rom 10:9-17). This is where the God-centered life begins.]]>
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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