2 Corinthians 5: 14-15:
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all,
therefore all died; and he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves,
but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again." (ASV)
I've read about a Christian pastor who lived in the presence of God.
People who knew him said that he would be in God's presence when he was also in the
presence of other people.
If someone said to him that they were going to a certain city that day, he would say, " God, bless you as you travel."
He did not bow his head and close his eyes.
He would just talk to God.
Someone who knew this about him thought he was eccentric?
Being eccentric has been described by saying that our life is like a wheel.
The rim of the wheel constantly moves about in the affairs of life -- business, family, school, and so on.
The hub is said to be the center.
That is the deeper " you".
This is where we believe, feel, form opinions, and make decisions.
A devotional book written in the 14th century, titled " The Cloud of the Unknowiing," says:
" On one level we may be meeting all the demands of the external affairs.
But deep within, at a more profound level, one may also be in prayer and adoration,
song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathings."
Every Christian will decide what be at at the hub of his or her life.
You can be God-centered which is to be Christ-centered.
Or you can be eccentric.
The eccentric person is a bit off-center.
We become eccentric when anyone or anything other than God is central in our lives.
I believe that most Christians want to live a life that has purpose and is real.
Every Christian should desire this kind of life.
We need to look at what will enable us to have a God centered life..
Some Christians may say, " I'll go to a good sound church.
I believe that will bring purpose and satisfaction to my life."
So this Christian finds a church that is active and exciting.
Things are happening, and there is a happy atmosphere in that church.
It seems that God is at work.
So this Christian says, " This is it!"
This Christian becomes active in Sunday school classes and other church activities,
and even serves on committees.
But after a while this Christian says, " A lot of these people are no better than I am,
and some of them have worse problems than I do."
So, this Christian gets restless again.
And this Christian begins to look for something else, something deeper
Now this Christian hears of a special doctrine class that is held in a home and they listen
to somebody's tapes, and they think, " Why haven't I heard of this before?
Why is it that no one has told me about this?"
Now this Christian is excited, and believes that his or her search is over.
This is it!
Now this Christian focuses on the new doctrine which specializes, and it's wonderful and it's Biblical.
But soon as this Christian finds that it doesn't really take in everything he or she is still restless.
He or she feels dry and empty.
Then, one day a friend who seems to be a full of joy says, " What you really need is
a certain Christian experience."
So this Christians thinks that must be true, and that is exactly what I need.
So he goes to the place where these people are having this experience, and they all seem
to be happy and are rejoicing in the Lord.
This is such a great place, and the Christians says, " Praise the Lord! This is it!"
Now this Christian is trying to get, " it".
The group is encouraging this Christian to get " it".
They say, " You've got to have more faith. Let go! Give up! Relax!"
Finally, this Christian gets "it".
This Christian has such a great experience and says, " This has to be it. This must be it!"
Eventually, the old restlessness creeps back.
This happens because all the time this Christian was looking for "it" and not for " Him".
The church itself must never be the center in your life.
Neither should an experience be the main feature of a Christian's life.
Nor should a special doctrine be central in a Christian's life.
God himself must be central in our lives.
Anything else will make us eccentric and off center.
Imagine a factory.
All over this factory are wheels.
There are huge wheels, little wheels, medium wheels, and they are all turning.
The factory is running.
Everything runs smoothly in the factory because all the wheels are on center.
Now we visit another factory.
This factory has good wheels, and they are well made wheels and they are important wheels,
but each wheel is just a bit off center.
When that factory begins to operate on a Monday morning there will be all kinds of clattering
and squeaking and the smell of burning bearings.
The place is shaking to pieces!
This factory is like many churches where everyone is doing his or her " thing."
There is a wheel over there which is squeaking away saying,
" You must witness! Everyone must witness!"
And there is a another wheel that is smoking and saying,
" You need to know all the doctrines of the Bible."
There is another wheel that is groaning, " Missions, missions." ... "Second coming".
Now these emphases are all worthy and good, but if they are central in a Christian's life,
then that Christian is eccentric.
It is no wonder that the average church is full of bumping and squeaking and clattering and ...
How can you tell if you're eccentric?
If you follow any human leader, pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc.; any movement, any church,
any doctrine, and make any of these central to your life and thinking, then you are eccentric.
You are spiritually off balance.
2 Corinthians 5: 14-15 is so important.
These two verses say that Christ " died for all, that those who live might live no longer
for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised." (RSV)
Only God is the perfectly balanced Person.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit --only God is really whole and complete.
Only God is sufficient in Himself.
We as Christians are only whole and only sufficient when our lives are revolving around Him.
We must be God-centered.
Many Christians lives are so lopsided.
Their lives are like that wheel in which too much attention is given to the circumference.
They are dependent on those who are outside of them, instead of being dependent on God
who is that " Holy One within them."
God must be the hub, the focus, the center, and the purpose of our lives.
We must have a "centralized government" in our life.
Matthew 6: 33 says: " Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all these things will be added to to you."
In this passage Jesus is talking about the circumference.
He is talking about the things of life, such as food, housing, clothing, and other such needs.
So He says: " Seek ye first the kingdom of God (the government of God) and all these things
will take care of themselves. They will be added to you."
David wrote, " As the hart panteth for the water brook, so pants my soul for Thee, O God!"
Paul wrote, "That in everything He might be preeminent."
When this is true, everything else takes its proper place in our lives.
Is there something in your mind that says, " Oh, but surely I can have the best of two worlds --
All of the circumference and God at the hub also."
When Francis of Assisi was a young man, it was said of him that when other young men ran away
to the world, he ran away to God.
It is no wonder that everyone quotes him and sings his songs.
Hebrews 11: 6 tells us: " He that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is the rewarder
of them that diligently seeks him."
Christian, if you have not diligently sought after God in your life and had not made Him central in your life,
and have not given him preeminence, it may because deep down in your heart, you do not believe
that He is the rewarder of them that seek Him.
The big lie from the world and from the pit of hell is that God is not a good rewarder, and that if you
really follow after Him, you will miss some of the " goodies" of life.
Then, you have been sold a bill of goods.
Only in God!
Only in God is there reward.
Hear it again!
Only in God!
Isaiah 26: 3 says, " Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee."
That is what has been called " practicing the Presence."
That is keeping God in the central place in your heart and life.
There is another problem as we think about being God-centered, and that is our tendency is
to want it " for me" so " I can have this perfect peace"
then " I" am still in the center.
" I" want the experience because it will make me a top quality,
at the top of the pile Christian, and at that point, God is not waited upon and sought for what He is.
We must be aware of our motives.
But, let us be reminded that we were made to be God centered.
We can go on lopsided through life if we want to banging and squeaking on our way
and that would be our choice.
But we were made to have Christ at the center.
Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in Thee."
Christ must be at the very center of our life.
Paul said, " That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith."
He means that the indwelling Christ and the enjoyment of Him continually, requires an attitude
of believing and an attitude of faith -- that is where it is real!
It is in God!
It isn't anywhere else.
We don't have to keep tabs on the Christian fire lest it go out by fanning it.
The fire is God!
We only need to stay close to the fire.
I believe that there are Christians here who want things to be better in the future than
they have been in the past.
God bless you for wanting this!
That is the hunger for God that He has put in your heart.
We must be like the disciples who fished all night and caught nothing.
So, led us let down our nets, and go out into the deep where He is.
You do this by beginning right where you are!
Inwardly, begin to adore God and love Him completely.
Begin to praise Him from the very depths of your being.
Right now just say: " Dear God, I love You. I praise You. I adore You! I want to live every day every moment in Your presence!"
Tomorrow morning when you get up, say: " Lord, here we are. What are we going to do today?
I want to be aware of Your presence all day!"
" Fairer than morning,
Lovelier than daylight;
Dawns the sweet consciousness --
I am with Thee!"
Then, all through the day and at the very deepest level of your heart, stay in conversation with God.
As you walk down the street, ask God to bless those you see.
As you stopped at a red light, express your love to Jesus.
As you go your home after a day of work, say: " Dear God thank you for being with me
throughout the day, and please continue to bless me and my family."
And as you go from place to place, praise God and say to Him: " Thy will be done!"
Keep talking to God all through the day!
And when you fail, and when you get so clever and began to assert your own way,
don't spend much time groveling over it.
Go to God and get closer this time.
We are so success-centered that it is difficult to have the patience to develop this quality in life.
After all on television every mystery is solved within the hour, and great things happen instantly.
But living with God takes time.
Perhaps, you have lived with the Lord a long time, and you know that it takes time to grow a deeper life
and a closer walk with God.
But we must faithfully keep at it.
We are not home, yet!
We must truly come to know what it is to grow in the Lord.
This is not a self-improvement scheme.
It isn't for you.
This is for God!
This is to gather around Him and give Him and glory, honor and your total love and total dedication.
This is the God-centered life.
Someone has said, " It is better to run the possible risk of fanaticism by complete dedication
to God, than to run the certain risk of mediocrity by only a 10% or 28% dedication to God.
It would be better to have someone tell us that we need a psychiatrist than to measure our lives
by our mediocre population."
The prophets said to the world, " Thus saith the Lord."
They didn't say, " Thus saith the majority."
Today, this is a message for all of us who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus
that we will be God-centered!