Jesus seems to think he’s supposed to be the centre of the whole world. He seems to think that his incarnation, life, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension are the central events of history. He’s also difficult to argue with, because he also seems to think he is God. I used to argue with him about that, but life has certainly made a lot more sense since I decided to agree with him that he should be the central focus of my life, instead of me.
The events of Jesus’ life have profoundly changed the way I see the world and they have even more profoundly changed the way I have found my place in it.
Once I became open (almost 15 years ago) to the idea that he perhaps was who he claimed to be, it seemed pretty obvious that my choice was essentially binary in nature:
1) worship him for who he is and what he’s done, and reorient my whole existence around that monumental truth, or
2) deny him and move along to something else.
That may be less nuanced than our postmodern age would allow me, but those are essentially our choices. Once one decides what to do with Jesus, the plethora of choices opens up again, in terms of how we process the consequences of that decision, but only once one decides.
I am fond of telling folks “the Gospel demands a response.” When we first hear about Jesus we stand at a fork in the road: “This way or that?” we ask ourselves. For the one who follows Jesus, that decision needs to be made week after week after week. Day after day after day after day. Moment after… you get it.
As I was studying John 19 for a sermon I came across this wonderful passage from an author named Frederick Dale Bruner, which I feel encapsulates how we think about a Sunday gathering, and really, the whole Christian life.
(All emphases are his)
“The Church has one center, one subject, one object, and one heart: the Person, Word, and Work of the Crucified and Risen Jesus Christ, God’s Crucial Representative on Earth, celebrated and centered afresh each Sunday in the sermon and then immediately after the sermon (ideally) by the altar-calling supper, which was given, quite specifically, as a “a memorial to me”: “This is my body, given for you… This is my blood, shed for you and for many others…” Paul’s priorities come to mind as well: “for I delivered to you that which is of first importance and which you also welcomed: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared [to the earliest church in several important appearances]…” (1 Cor 15:3-8). “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).”
Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, p.1099
You can really only have one “centre” of your life.
For those of you who wouldn’t necessarily describe yourself as a Christian, Jesus stands before you, inviting you to a new and exciting way of existing, and he does so with open arms. The fork in the road stands before you.
For those of you who follow Jesus, you came to the fork in the road and were convinced he is who he claims to be, and now you are walking down the path with him. He is leading you on the way of life. The Gospel demands a response from us as well: how will we live this out in the midst of our everyday? Is he the central, unifying, person who guides you along the way? Or is he peripheral to your all-to-busy life?
No matter who we are and where we stand before God this Easter, may we allow his love to compel us to faithfully living a Christ-centred life.