Saturday, November 01, 2008

when Christ is not the center

When Jesus is not the center we Christians naturally run into all sorts of problems. Of course we're really on our own then, and operating according to the flesh, not according to the Spirit.

I think we can get off center as we put other things in place of Jesus, good things, and sometimes not so good, or even bad I'm afraid (for all of us). I believe in a Christian pacifist stance but that can become central to Christians in a way that misses the point of it, in Jesus. Then it's no longer lived out in Jesus, but we're on our own, and that can look sadly ugly. (not here to debate the issue of Christian pacifism, and even if this position is flawed, it does have something important and true to say, but only in Jesus- I believe).

We can get off center as Christians in the United States these days, as we consider the election. That it has to be this or that, even on such stands that are important, like the Christian stand for the sanctity of life. If Jesus isn't central in all this, then we end up acting and looking like the world, right before the world, and in the name of our Lord, and so we can sully his name.

When Jesus is not the center, then we in Jesus will quickly divide over any number of issues. Like how one is going to vote in this country on Tuesday. Or over what theological tradition we believe in. Or over anything at all, maybe a disagreement over something.

Jesus must ever remain the center for us, and as we look to him together, we can more and more see that our differences are secondary to that. That it is the Spirit who gives us oneness here and now, a oneness we're to work hard at preserving and maintaining. And that we have one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. So that we can live well together in spite of our differences because Jesus is at the center. All that is good and true for us to live out God's good will in his kingdom for here and now are found in him.

So let's make it a point, especially us Christians over here in the United States during this divided election season, to make sure Jesus is at the center. That we may simply agree to disagree, because what is central to us all is the same. Not always easy. But we need to learn to live this out before the world.

What would you like to add to this?


Anonymous said...

Jesus provides unity for those that follow Him.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - good thoughts indeed on Christ as central to our lives, including our political preferences.

I was wondering what it might look like for Christ to be central to Christians in the realm of politics. Does it mean that we would always agree and be united? Might there be issues that we would be willing to stand against even other Christians if they opposed the sanctity of the unborn, for instance.

What do you think?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Amen. The unity is already present in Jesus, but we must maintain it by seeking to keep him in the center of our faith and activity. I think this will end up playing out in ways that will be as unexpected as if he were here in person, as the God-man that he is. Like in the days when he walked the earth. But he is present with us by the Spirit, now. So in ways that are clear and general- witnessing and loving each other, and our enemies, but in ways which also would be surprising, without ever violating God's revelation in his word.

Ted M. Gossard said...


No. I don't believe so at all. This is where both the religious right and the religious left fall flat, in my estimation, in spite of the good they do.

I'll want to vote for measures that uphold the sanctity of the unborn. I explain abortion and voting, and my thoughts on it, recently, in this posting.

It's all the harder for me with some Anabaptist thinking in my theological paradigm to confine life to just the unborn. On top of that there's the issue of how we work towards ridding our country of abortions. And many other matters weigh in as well.

I hold tentatively to a view that God may lead Christians following Jesus to vote differently in some issues, or at least may give them the freedom in the Spirit to do so. Partly to get the salt and light everywhere, and partly as part of God's mysterious working in reaching a solution. I'm not sold on the idea that an overturning of Roe v Wade will solve the abortion problem in our country, though we should be for that.

Christ at the center does not mean we'll all agree on how to solve problems. Nor does it mean we won't think that the other is wrong. And there are some significant differences we know among professing Christian churches and people nowadays.

Literacygirl said...

I am little confused. If someone defends Bush and the war, do they not have Christ at their center? It puts a black eye on Christianity? How so? Isn't this a difference of opinion? It sounds like a lot of judgment someone who disagrees with you.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your comment.

If someone defends Bush and the war- it depends. Of course this could be just a question of arriving to a different judgment with Christ still as the center. But if Christ is the center, then the two Christians, for example- on different sides of this issue, will still love and get along with each other well. But when your judgment on such matters becomes central, then you will divide.

Literacygirl said...

Thanks for clarifying. Too many people are judging others as to whether Christ is at their center or if one is intelligent based upon their political opinions on both sides of red and blue spectrum. We CAN come to different political conclusions and still be siblings in Christ. I just don't like it when one side calls the other side names, when they should just respectfully disagree and not say they are being "black eyes". It is hurtful and demeaning. Thanks again and peace.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Literacygirl, and thanks.