What Does It Mean To Be
|We have all heard the term, but do we understand what to be "Christ-centered"
means? Christians seem to have different viewpoints on this matter. Some feel it means belonging to
an institution that teaches the Bible and being faithful in matters pertaining to the church.
Such faithfulness is not to be frowned at, but there is more to being Christ-centered than church
It is important to understand that religion is not Christ-centeredness. If your faith lies in the local body of Christ's church that you are a part of, or any institution other than the Truth of Christ, that is not "Christ-centeredness." Let us examine the Truths of Christ-centeredness.:
Christianity is Christ. To be Christ-centered is Christ. It is not a philosophy. Christ is not something you learn about academically as you would a subject like Algebra. Studying the Bible and knowing it is not Christ. Studying the Bible is good; but it is important to understand the reason for studying the Bible. It is to know Christ and be known of Him.
To be Christ-centered, first and foremost is to know and believe certain truths:
Truth about Jesus, the Messiah. The Man Jesus Who walked the earth 2000 years ago, was and is the Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. He was the "anointed of God," the "Christos" of God. The word "Christ" is not Jesus' last name; it means "anointed one" or the "anointing." Jesus was born of a virgin, and His Father was God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and was fully man and fully God. He was filled with the Holy Spirit; He never sinned. He came to earth to teach and to show us the way to God. To know Christ, however, is not just to know His teachings. His principle mission was to die for the sins of mankind and make it possible for fallen (sinful) man to be restored to God. This is the work of the Cross.
Truth about the Crucified Jesus Christ. The Cross is where Jesus, the Anointed One, was put to death for the sins of the world. There He took your and my sins upon Himself, and paid a debt we could never pay. The law accuses us, condemns us. Jesus, in paying our debt, satisfied all of the demands of the law on our behalf. When we come to faith in the Crucified Jesus, we are crucified in Him, and die with Him on the Cross. We receive this truth, as we receive all truths about Him, by faith.
Truth about the Resurrected Christ. On the third day after His death, Jesus rose from the dead in a glorified body. Just as He was crucified for us, and our old self is crucified in Him, we are raised in Him to newness of life; and our eternal destiny is to live forever in a glorified body with Him. We do not as yet possess a glorified body; that is future. But for now, we have His resurrection abiding in us, causing us to be resurrected spiritually -- born again. Our bodily resurrection is yet future, but we already possess the assurance of it by faith.
Truth about the Ascended Christ. After Jesus was resurrected in His glorified body, He ascended back to Heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father and be the Head of His Body (all born again believers) on earth. If you are in Christ, i.e. been crucified in Him and raised with Him, you are also ascended with Him and sit with Him in heavenly places. Yes, your imperfect physical body is still on earth, but you are spiritually a part of the Body of Christ and in the Ascended Christ, Who is Head of the Body. You are to seek those things which are above, and not below. All born again believers have a new citizenship -- a heavenly one.
Truth about the Promise of the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. Jesus did not leave us to fend for ourselves. As Promised, the Holy Spirit was sent on the Day of Pentecost to indwell each believer individually and all believers collectively as the Body of Christ. It is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is effectively your Lord. It is the Holy Spirit Who places and sustains you in the Body of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that glorifies Christ, Who is in you -- the believer -- by His Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One. If you have Christ, you have the Father and the Spirit. If you have the Spirit, you have the Son and the Father. The Spirit is given to build the Body of Believers up as the Habitation of God. With the Spirit comes the fruit of the Spirit; and the gifts of the Spirit. We are to "walk in the Spirit," and not in the flesh. To be baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit is what every believer should seek. All that is thus received of Christ is received by grace through faith, and not of works. The result, however, of this inner working of God in you will produce holy works that are God's works in and through you, not your own.
Truth about Christ in You, the Hope of Glory. The presence of Christ in us now is the down-payment on what is to be ours in Glory with Him. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard what is in store for us in Glory. His presence in us is there to be with us always, and grow us up in His Image so that we may partake of that Glory. This is what Christianity is all about: Christ living in, working in and through believers individually and collectively.
Truth about Jesus as Lord. To be Christ-centered is to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord. This means that in all matters pertaining to life, He is our king, and rules over us. This is made possible and effective by His indwelling Spirit. As we feed on His Word and listen for His Voice through His Word, He will lead and guide us into all Truth.
Truth about Grace as opposed to Legalism. Christ must be Lord and not man or institutions. We must listen to Him. He is our Shepherd. He leads us by grace through faith. Everything He accomplished for us is freely given to us; we accept it by faith. When man attempts to rule over us, by necessity he does it through law. "Do this, don't do that." When institutions rule us, by necessity they do it by law. "Perform this ritual; do this; don't do that. Accept all we say and do." But when Christ is Lord it is by His empowerment of Grace in us to receive His Truth and hear Him as He governs our lives. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit. Any other walk than in the Spirit is "flesh," and legalism; and none of that is acceptable to God.
Truth about the Body of Christ. When Christ saves someone, He places him or her in the Body of Christ. That is the only way to get in! We cannot join Christ by joining a local body of believers. It is Christ that places in the Body through being born again of the Spirit. After that, Christ wants us to be part of a local body of believers. It does not matter the name over the door, just so long as the truth is upheld and taught, and the local body is Christ-centered. Also, we should make certain it is where the Lord wants us to be. As we function as part of a local body, we grow in unity of the faith, we learn, we serve others. We learn about submission to those in spiritual authority and to other believers. We learn to put ourselves second to others' needs. We allow the Pastor to lead in matters of the church and our role in it, because he is called by God to do so. We learn to work together, love one another, pray for each other, submit to one another, and in doing all this we also exercise our spiritual gifts -- bestowed on each of us in certain areas by the Holy Spirit, in order to edify the body.
The Christian, to be Christ-centered, accepts and walks in all of the above by faith. Christianity is Christ in the believer and the believer in Christ.
Are you Christ-centered, or just religious? Have you been born again by repenting of your sin and receiving His atonement on the Cross as the only atonement for your sin? Is Christ your Lord? Do you know that you are in Him and He is in you? Are you baptized in the Spirit, filled with His Spirit? Do you spend time with Him in prayer, Bible study and seeking His will for your life? Do you have the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit in your life? Are you gifted by Him, and using those gifts for His glory? Do you seek fellowship with other believers who are Christ-centered? Are you being driven by law, or led by the Spirit?
Ask God to show you the way to be Christ-centered by removing those things from your life that are not of Christ, and replacing them with the fullness of "Christ in you, your hope of glory."
Some Scriptures that teach Christ-centeredness:
The believer is Crucified With Christ. (Gal. 2:20)
Copyright © 2005 Mary Cage. Permission is granted to freely use this article with proper credit given. The author requests that if used on a website, that a link be put to this site.