Friday, August 5, 2011

Being Christ-Centered is Being Other-Centered

Focusing on Jesus Christ in our Christian walk is certainly very important. While our fleshly tendency is to feed our own personal desires, the Holy Spirit testifies to us of the wonder and majesty of God. A heart given over to Christ is a heart that joyfully focuses upon Christ.

We see something interesting in scripture related to this. Those people who are most Christ-focused or Christ-centered are also those who are the most "other-centered." Instead of looking after only their own wants, they look to the good of others first. John shows us this connection over and over. It can best be described by a simple word: love.

In John's gospel account, we read the following famous verses 13:34-35. Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

In John's first epistle, he repeatedly makes the connection between loving God and loving others.

I John 2:9-11, "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

I John 3:16-18, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

I John 3:23, "And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us."

I John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."

I John 4:11, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

I John 4:20-21, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

I John 5:2-3, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."

John shows us over and over that a direct connection exists between love for God, which is almost synonymous with focus upon God, and love for others.

In our world we don't have a problem with what some may refer to as "man-centered" Christianity. The real difficulty we all face is self-centered Christianity. In the flesh we love self as king. Only through the Spirit can we look away from self and focus on Christ. When we do this, we show our love for Him through our love for others.

The beauty in this is that as we draw closer to Christ, He increasingly changes our hearts. As we mature in Him, we have an increasingly greater desire to be with, serve, and love others. This love for others requires work, but it is not drudgery. Rather, it is the fruit of a changed heart sacrificed to the one who sacrificed all for us.

Paul agreed with John. In Philippians 3 we read of a man who gave all for Jesus Christ. This is the same man who told us to love one another.

Romans 12:10, "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."

Romans 13:8, "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."

Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

We see again and again in the bible that love for God and focus upon Him will lead directly to love for others and focus upon them. We show this love in sacrificial service.

Let us all be Christ-centered people. In doing so, we will also be other-centered.

No comments: