What Is a Christ-Centered Life?
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“Christ-centered”—it’s a phrase we love to use. … But “Christ-centered” is a lot easier to talk about than to live, isn’t it? In the mundane moments of everyday life, a lot of other things compete with Christ for center stage.
Today I want to share four words that have helped mold my understanding of what a Christ-centered life looks like.
1) Source. A Christ-centered life begins with realizing that the source of everything we are is the Lord. He created us, he owns us, he gifted us with talents, he authors our story, and every blessing that we receive comes from him.1
Additionally, Christ is the source for our daily righteousness. We have no internal desire or moral ability to live up to biblical standards on our own, but in Christ, we have everything we need for godly living.2
2) Motive. A Christ-centered life means that a Person is the motivation for everything we think, say, and do. Many of us leave little room for Christ in our Christianity. By that, I mean that our ability to “keep the law” or our pride in historic tradition is what defines our faith, not the person of Jesus.
Is your Christianity intimate and personal? Do you want to know Christ?3 Do you want to be part of his work? Do you want to please him? Do you want to incarnate his character? A Christ-centered life is deeply intimate and motivated by relationship.
3) Goal. A Christ-centered life has one ultimate goal: that Jesus gets the glory. It’s not wrong to pursue personal goals, but the glory of Christ is the orienting compass that gives direction to all others.
Because we want Christ to be known, honored, worshipped and obeyed, we submit every other attainable goal to him. Our decisions are no longer controlled by selfish desires, but by new desires we get from his love.4
4) Hope. A Christ-centered life finally puts all our eggs in the basket of the Lord. We know that this life is not all there is, and that an eternity is coming.5 But a Christ-centered life is more than just a ticket out of hell. We have hope in the here and now, because Christ has promised his presence and grace until we go home.
Ask yourself: Is my life Christ-centered? Is Christ my source for life? Is he the motivation for everything I do? Is his glory my goal? Is he my hope, both for today and for eternity?
Like I said at the beginning, a lot competes for center stage in our hearts. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus accepts us and forgives us when he is not at the center.
Our Savior patiently walks with us and fights for us as we progress to make him the main focus of our life!—Paul Tripp6
Are you self-centered or God-centered?
“Instead of worrying, pray. .... It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”—Philippians 4:6–77
What will be the center of your life?
In other words, who or what are you going to live for? There are a lot of options. You can center your life around a career, a sport, a hobby, making money, or having fun.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. They’re all fine, but they all make a lousy center for your life. You need something at the center of your life that is absolutely unchanging, that can never be taken away from you. … You need something that is unchanging and secure.
One of the ways you know that Jesus is at the center of your life is you worry less. Any time you start worrying, it should be a red flag, a warning sign that says, “I’ve allowed someone or something to become the center of my life instead of God.” You could make a person the center of your life, and you’ll be under stress because you know that person can walk out of your life any time or die or get sick.
There’s only one thing you can put at the center of your life that will never change and is strong enough to sustain you through life: Jesus Christ.
Do you remember years ago they used to have these things called Super Balls? When you bounced it on the ground, it’d go 30 or 40 feet high. Why? Because the center of a Super Ball was a tightly compacted, solid core. That’s what gave it its bounce-ability.
When your core is solid in God, you have bounce-ability. You bounce back from stress faster. You bounce back from problems faster. You bounce back from grief faster. You bounce back from crisis faster. You have something solid in your life that doesn’t change, and you worry less.—Rick Warren
What should a Christ-centered life look like?
A Christ-centered (or Christocentric) life is one that is focused upon a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the core of every human decision is a motivation. Some people are motivated by the quest for pleasure or money. Some center their entire lives on a goal, a job, or even their families. These things are not wrong in themselves; however, that which we center our lives on can become our god.
The human heart was designed for worship, and if it does not worship God, it will worship something else. If we are not Christ-centered, we will be centered on something else. Worship is measured by the amount of time, money, and emotional energy expended. Our gods can be identified by the level of passionate commitment they evoke in us, and, after a while, we begin to resemble them. We talk about them, think about them, dream about them, and scheme to spend more time with them. People who know us best usually know where our deepest passions lie because worship is hard to hide.
Followers of Christ who center their lives on Him start to become more like Him. They talk about Him, think about Him, dream about Him, and scheme to spend more time with Him. … The greatest desire of Christ-centered believers is to please Him and grow to be more like Him. … The chief aim of a Christ-centered life is to glorify God.
But a Christ-centered life is not to be confused with a religion-centered life. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were religion-centered. They ate, drank, and slept the Law. … But Jesus had harsh rebuke for them. They were Law-centered but not love-centered, and it made all the difference.8 A religion-centered life strives for supremacy, attention, and glory based upon performance. It keeps score and judges itself and others by self-made standards. Christ-centered lives rest in the finished work of Jesus on their behalf and yearn for holiness as a means of staying close to Him.9
The secret to living a Christ-centered life is understanding the “fear of the Lord.”10 The fear of the Lord is the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, or do. Those who live Christ-centered lives have developed a tangible awareness of the presence of Jesus.11 They make decisions based upon the question “Would this please the Lord?” They avoid Satan’s traps and worldly entanglements because they evaluate their choices: “If Jesus was spending the day with me, would I do that? Watch that? Say that?”12 …
No person has ever lived a perfect life except Jesus.13 Even those who deeply desire a Christ-centered life will stumble, fall, sin, and make fleshly decisions in moments of weakness.14 But a Christ-centered person cannot endure living in disharmony with God and will quickly confess sin and be restored to fellowship with Him. This process of living in continual harmony with God … is a lifelong process by which God makes us more like Jesus.15 When we first center our hearts on Him, our lives quickly follow.—From gotquestions.org16
Make room for Christ
I want to say just a word to the Christian: I want to challenge you to stop for just a moment, for the world can creep into your heart and crowd Christ out with little useless things, little things that are so unnecessary, and putting the emphasis in the wrong place and taking time for things that are of the world, giving attention to material things more than to fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the reading of His Word. You can soon crowd Christ out.
But the world never satisfies, we’re saying. We want to exalt for a moment our precious Lord Jesus Christ by saying how wonderfully satisfying He is. If nothing has satisfied you, if you still have that emptiness, that aching void in your soul, listen to this verse: “Jesus Christ is a satisfying portion.” Millions have testified that this is so, that He has satisfied every desire of their heart. When they knew nothing but the world’s work and the world’s wages, and didn’t find any satisfaction, Christ came into their life and there dawned upon their darkened soul a wonderful light.—Virginia Brandt Berg
Published on Anchor June 2019. Read by Jerry Paladino. Music by John Listen.
1 Genesis 1, Acts 17:26, James 1:17.
2 2 Peter 1:3.
3 Philippians 3:10.
4 2 Corinthians 5:14–15.
5 1 Corinthians 15:19, Revelation 21:4.
8 Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:42.
9 Hebrews 12:14.
10 Psalm 19:9; Proverbs 16:6.
11 Matthew 28:20.
12 1 Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 6:11.
13 Hebrews 4:15.
14 1 John 1:8–10.
15 Romans 8:29; Hebrews 12:14.