Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Centre

When I was saved it was an utter life-changing experience. The weeks leading up to my conversion had been a miserable time. Almost on a dare, I had been reading the Book of Romans and had become deeply aware of my sin and my eventual eternal fate. The time I came to the saving news in the Book of Romans resulted in me praying a profoundly heart-moving prayer pleading with God to save my soul and forgive me of my sins. Over the days that followed I felt my life being transformed. I experienced an almost insatiable hunger to know God's Word. I felt a debt of gratitude to Christ for what He had done. I wanted to tell everyone that without Jesus as Saviour and Lord they would face God's judgment without the Only qualified Advocate to defend them. I made one encompassing vow that has guided my life.
That vow was to make Christ the centre of my life. I vowed to live for Him. I saw others who had become Christians and had claimed to have made Christ the Lord of their life. But there was little evidence of it when times got comfortable. It seemed to me that Jesus was a segment of their lives, not the hub.
My vow meant that I made a commitment to what my Christ was committed to. I wanted to walk in the footsteps of my Saviour. I have since discovered that these footsteps are bloodstained and that following a Risen Saviour also means that I follow a Crucified Saviour. As I devoured around 20 chapters of the Bible everyday, I could not escape the most obvious commitment that Christ had made, and therefore as a Christ-centred, Saviour-footstep-following-follower, I had to make as well: Christ was committed to the Church.
Eph. 5:25 ¶ Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
The Enemy has assaulted Christ's Church. He has railed against it with insult, ridicule, lies, and mockery. He has infiltrated some churches. If his external attacks make no dent, then his internal ones sometimes do (2Cor. 2:11). But the Church's faltering, Jesus still deeply loves His Church. During His earthly ministry He made it His "custom" to be in the pre-cursor to His Church, the Synagogue, every Sabbath. The Sabbath before Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, He was in a Synagogue worshipping His Father in the company of those had just lauded Him with cries of Hosanna but within just 5 days would be screaming for His crucifixion! Churches are not immune from betrayal, disappointment, and failures.
Luke 4:16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
As we move away from the moment of His Cross toward the moment of Christ's Culmination of His Father's Plan (1Cor. 15:28), His Church is still His central plan (Eph. 1:22). At times she looks awkward. At times she gaffs. At times she loses focus. At times she fears the opinions of men more than the approval of Her Master. But Christ's central plan is to redeem people into His Church where He has ordained that it assemble weekly, give itself to be a Witness as it Worships while it receives The Word (WWW). He has ordained that it be directed, disciplined and developed (DDD). He calls competent charismatic ("gifted") people to lead it (CCC). And it is when the local church assembles that Christ has ordained His presence to be manifested (Matt. 18:20) and for His people to receive a greater revelation of Him.
In addressing the idea that a person can live as a Christian without the Church, Chuck Colson calls this "a dangerous idea."

"Christ cannot be known apart from His Body, the Church."
Chuck Colson
"He who would find Christ must first find the Church."
Martin Luther
While the Enemy is at work sowing life-sucking thorn bushes and wheat-like tares (Matt. 13:25), I am still committed to the Cause of Christ: to redeem the world through the Church.
Heb. 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
Making Christ the Centre of your life puts everything in perspective. With Christ as Centre, the world is at peace. With Christ as the Centre my needs are met. With Christ as Centre I have hope in the midst of life's storms. In fact, I have found that it is far easier to keep Christ the Centre of my life when life is stormy - because when life is comfortable Christ is too often neglected. Is Jesus the Centre of your life? See you in the Centre this Sunday.

Ps. Andrew

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