Keeping Jesus at the Center

March 1, 2016

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Jesus is the Center.

We say this phrase often, but when have we last had someone we respect, tell us how this works in their lives?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, all of your Soul, all of your Mind, and all of your Strength.” (Mark 12:30)

So what does that mean?

When I was younger I was told several things reflected having Jesus at the center.

  • Raising your hands signified to my classmates I finally was saved and not one of the Christian school “rebels”.
  • As I got older, I was told being demonstrative and loud in worship was needed to be a leader.
  • In some circles, speaking in tongues publicly is the key.

I remember reading Brother Lawrence’s story of redirecting his thoughts to God once a minute. As I tried to “practice the presence of God”, I never achieved once an hour for the entire day let alone once a minute! An epic fail in keeping Jesus at the center!

All of these were expectations placed on me or methods I attempted to keep Jesus at the center.

Now, 25 years into this journey, I have few reflections. I will share them as an acronym of the word “Center”.

C   Common. Walking with Jesus is real life. He becomes involved in every aspect of our lives. We should do this in and out of the church. The Bible says we may be a peculiar people, but should not be bizarre ones!

E   Everyday life. Brother Lawrence did not go to a prayer closet as he turned his thoughts to God each minute, he did it while washing dishes. Lets not separate the “spiritual” from the “everyday”.

N   Not Alone. We need others on this journey. Different views, cultures, giftings, and even politics serve to strengthen us. The only part of Creation which was not good was man being alone. Adam had God but He needed more.

T   Truth. 99 percent of keeping Jesus in the center is knowing Who He is and What He has done. When we are tempted to believe lies, the truth sets us free.

E   Effort. The other one percent is our part. While proportionally small, it is important to put action to our faith. Reading, studying, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines will add fertilizer to our growth. Keeping Jesus at the center is not a magic formula, but one which takes time and effort.

R   Race. This journey is not a sprint from one conference or summer camp to another. It is not a marathon where several good years mark our “closeness” to God. This is an ultra race for the rest of our lives.

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But in this race, the longer you run, the stronger you get.

I’m now in my forties. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin and don’t get swayed by others telling me how I need to express my love for God.

This freedom reflects itself in enjoying life with Jesus. The words “with” and “dwell” have become some of my favorite in all of Scripture.

We no longer need to go to a temple to meet God, but He is the one who fills us, His temple.

All of God’s interactions with man are encompassed in his desire to dwell with us, from the Garden (before sin) to eternity.

Keeping Jesus at the CENTER is not as complicated as we make it. The longer I walk, the more natural this becomes.

I look forward to 25, 30, even 50 more years on this ultra marathon.

How about you?

Photo by Jon Ottosson

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God