Abide In Christ
Abide In Christ
Abide In Christ
Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled, Believe
You Can’t Follow Me (Now)
Yesterday was the first Sunday of the Advent Season. Though we have never taken part in the full liturgy of Advent, historically our church has included an Advent wreath with candles near our communion setting on Sunday mornings, and we will likely do so this Christmas season as well. But as I was looking at the many different Advent readings and meditations for the first week of the season, one of the readings for Week 1 caused me to pause and ponder it’s implications (which is precisely what Advent readings are intended to do).
This particular reading was based around the theme of “Making Room for God in Your Life.” To summarize, the idea is actually pretty simple, which is to reflect on all the clutter you have built up in your life throughout the year that causes distraction from what is most important and pushes out the most essential need we all have in life––namely, God. Often these readings will include words from Luke 2:1-7 and illustrations of Mary and Joseph being turned away from the Inn because it was already too full. Additionally there are usually questions for consideration such as, What will you do to make room for Christ this Christmas? or In what rooms of your life is Jesus not permitted to enter? All are good questions and helpful parallels of application to our lives. But…..
There’s just something about that phrase that bothers me: “making room for God…”
Is just “making room” enough? If I move a few things around in my life and open up some space to allow God in, will I truly be satisfied in Him? Is Christmas––a season in which we celebrate God entering the world He created in order to fully satisfy the requirement that no created person throughout the history of the world would ever be able to satisfy, ridding the world of sin once for all who believe––a season in which we merely encourage one another to create a little space in our lives for the God of the universe? Something just seems a little backwards in that idea. Or at least a little small.
Is everything in our lives SO valuable that we just need to rearrange them in order to make some room for God? Are we really that important? Or, do we really view everything in our lives with such importance that we consider God as just another thing in our lives for which to make room?
Let me say, I know that’s not what those Advent readings are suggesting, and if you have been uplifted by a reading that encouraged you to make room for God in your life, I most certainly do not mean to downplay or belittle that. God uses all sorts of means in life to bring us to greater awareness of Him. Nevertheless, I’d like to elaborate just a bit and perhaps add to this idea of making room for God.
What if, rather than just make room for God in our already cluttered lives, we determined to empty our lives completely, put Him in the center, and then live out the rest of our lives from there? God is the starting point, not the intruder. God is the focal point, not the one who’s “photo-bombing” your life. God is in the center, not on the fringe. God defines, determines, guides and permeates everything. He doesn’t just stand by and then jump into those areas of life when it’s convenient or when we most need Him.
He is Supreme. He is Sovereign. He IS.
Nice theological buzzwords, Chris, but what does it all really mean? And how do we really live it? How can a person be a “God-centered” person and live a truly “God-centered” life?
The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.”
In Acts 17:28 Paul describes the God-centered person like this: “for in Him we live and move and have our being.”
A God-centered person treats God as central to all of life’s concerns, from the most simple and mundane to the most weighty and personal.
God-centered language is speech that does not marginalize God or treat Him as irrelevant or unnecessary. It makes explicit that all issues that matter are related importantly to God.
God-centered decision-making is radical and different from the way the common person makes decisions. It constantly asks the question, “What does God want? Is that what we are doing?” It always considers how the decision will affect the kingdom of God first, over and above how it will affect the individuals involved.
God-centered living is ultimately more freeing and more fulfilling than “me-centered” living. It is the continual life of trusting your Creator and provider in all things and with every aspect of your life. It is recognizing that He has both His and your best interests in mind. But His is always first.
The biblical, God-centered mindset is not simply one that includes God somewhere in our personal universe and recognizes that the Bible is true. The God-centered mindset begins with a radically different starting point, namely, God. God is the basic given reality in the universe. He was there before we were in existence––or before anything was in existence. He is simply the most absolute reality.
And so the God-centered mindset starts with the assumption that God is the center of reality. All thinking starts with the assumption that God has basic rights as the Creator of all things. He has goals that fit with his nature and perfect character. Then the God-centered mindset moves out from this center and interprets the world, with God and His rights and goals as the measure of all things.
The person who “makes room” for God to be in the center of his or her universe is the kind of person who views basic problems in life as problems not because they come into conflict my rights, my desires, my wishes, my goals, etc. For the God-centered person, what makes a problem is not, first, that something doesn’t fit the rights and needs of me, but that it doesn’t fit the rights and goals of God. If you start with you or me in the center of our universe, and our rights and wants, rather than starting with the Creator and His rights and goals, the problems you see in the universe will be very different.
Ask yourself this question: Is the basic riddle of the universe how to preserve my rights and solve my problems (for example, the right of self-determination, or the problem of suffering)? Or is the basic riddle of the universe how an infinitely worthy God in complete freedom can display the full range of His perfections––what Paul calls the “riches of his glory” (Romans 9:23)––His holiness and power and wisdom and justice and wrath and goodness and truth and grace in my sin-filled life?
How you answer that question will profoundly affect the way you understand the central event of human history––the Advent of the Christ into the world at Christmas and His death on the cross and resurrection at Easter. It will also determine whether or not you have a “God-centered” worldview or a “me-centered” worldview.
So, all that to say… my Advent challenge for each of us this year is to not merely make room for God in our lives, but to fully saturate your life with God. Clear out your life completely. Acknowledge His place is in the center, and then everything else becomes influenced by His presence in your life. View everything in life though the lens of God’s presence, God’s desires, God’s goals rather than viewing God and His activity in your life through the lens of everything else.
How is this practically accomplished? Jesus said it’s accomplished by abiding in Him. Enjoy Him! John 15 tells us that Jesus is the vine. Abiding in Him means we live every moment of every day in Christ and under the influence of Christ. Value Jesus, love Him. Cherish the Word of God––read it, study it, so it is inside you, that Christ and His values and His goals may be formed in us. For the God-centered person, all of your advice comes from the Scriptures. Your worldview comes from the Bible and not the world. Your view on issues of life, problems and trials in life, joyful and happy times in life, are all put into perspective by the Word of Christ.
I will conclude with one final thought. The Bible says “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Along those lines, I want to say that Christians must be God-centered people because God is God-centered. Huh?
Yes, you read that correctly. God is God-centered. God’s love for man does not consist in making man central, but in making Himself central for man. The birth of Christ and the cross of Christ do not direct man’s (yours and my) attention to our own vindicated worth, but to God’s vindicated righteousness.
This is ultimate love, because the only eternal happiness for man (you and me) is happiness that is focused on the riches of God’s glory. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forever more” says Psalm 16:11. God’s self-exaltation is loving because it preserves for us and offers to us the only all-satisfying Object of desire in the universe––the all-glorious, all-righteous God.
Someone once said that making room for God in your life is sort of like making room for cold in the fridge.
He is. Merry Christmas!
Washing Feet, Part 2
Josh Hilliard explains a new ministry within Oasis Church and how you can get involved in it. Enjoy!
Barrier to Belief in Jesus
“King Jesus” Part 2