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The following is from Joshua Kanyesigye, a former iServe Africa apprentice now serving Christ and His Church back in Uganda:

Shalom! Just a few reflections on a Christ-Centred Life.

It is important for us to recognize what we hold as the true centre of our lives and to understand what true holiness is all about.

“Centre” – the rotational point, the point where something balances, its middle, the true core. The centre of your being is the place from which you draw your security, guidance, wisdom, power and life. To be centred on something or someone is to have your life fully devoted or based on an idea, person, place or something.

Examples of centres people have include: Wealth, job, family, education, pleasure, etc. Sometimes our lives are based on very little or nothing at all. Often people base their lives on things they can see, but there is something Greater…

Jesus is the Centre (John 15:4-6)

“Abide in me, as I also abide in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must abide in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not abide in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

The problem with all the other centres apart from Christ is that all of them are fragile and will eventually break, be shaken, collapse, or die. If our lives rotate around them we will be like the branch that withers. The wonderful alternative is to be centred on Christ, drawing all our life from Him, the fountain of life, as a branch draws all its life from the vine. Jesus has just told the disciples that he will send the Holy Spirit to be “in you” (John 14:17) and “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:20). As the branch is connected to the vine, in the vine, one with the vine, so we, by the Spirit, are connected to Christ, in Christ, one with him, just as he is in the Father and one with the Father.  We are caught up into the very Trinity! This is our centre, the source of our security, guidance, wisdom, power and life.

It is easy to say that Jesus is the Centre, the Cornerstone and Foundation but what does that look like in the practical life?

Characteristics of a Christ Centred Life

  • Decision to abide: “If you abide in me…” (John 15:7). There is a daily decision to make. Jesus goes on to say, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 14:16) so we must be careful not to pretend that the Christian life is all about ‘our decision for Christ’.  Nevertheless, once we have been grafted into the True Vine we have a new heart and mind and will, released from bondage to confusion and death, able to start to desire Christ and love him and serve him. We are able to make an informed decision to live for Jesus – to “chose this day whom we will serve” (Joshua 24:15) in a way we were not able to before (Joshua 24:19; Romans 8:8-11). Are you often questioning or second guessing if you want to truly give it all? How does that decision (or lack of decision) affect your life? What difference does Christ make?
  • The Scriptures: “…and my words abide in you…” (John 15:7). This is the rock solid foundation for our lives – the Word that will never pass away (Isaiah 40:8). These are the words that cut us down (Heb. 4:12) so that they can heal us. These are the words of eternal life (John 6:68). They are the means of our communion with Christ, our feeding on Christ, of Christ imparting himself to us (John 6:51-63). How often do I read the Bible? Do I commit verses to memory? How can I make the Bible a more central part of my life? Am I coming to the Bible to find Jesus and life in him (John 5:39-40)? Am I finding joy in hearing his words (John 15:11)? Am I seeking a daily assurance of who I am in Christ and where I am heading (John 17:24)?
  • Prayer and Devotion: “…ask whatever you wish…” (John 15:7 cf. v16). We are united to a God of outpouring grace, who is far more ready to give than we are to ask. In practice this means having A Quiet Place and a Quiet Hour in your daily schedules.
  • Convictions: “…if my words abide in you…keep my commandments…” (John 15:7-10). The wise man building on the rock was the one who heard Jesus’ words, believed them and obeyed them (Matthew 7:24). We build our lives on things we deeply believe in and hold as true. Convictions about the truth lead to godliness (Titus 1:1).
  • Forgiveness and Reconciliation: “…love one another as I have loved you…” (John 15:12). If we are centred on Christ, amazed by his love for us, willing laying down his life, then we must be loving one another like that. If we have even begun to grasp the hugeness of the debt Jesus has paid in his blood (Matthew 18:23-27) how can we not forgive the comparatively miniscule offenses of our brothers (Matthew 18:28-35)?  Am I a person who loves a life full of forgiveness and mercy? I am a peace maker (Matthew 18:15-17) or do I just love my own peace?
  • Fruit: “…bear fruit…” (John 15:2,4,5,8,16). It comes again and again. The goal is that the branches draw on the life of the Vine and bear fruit – grapes, Vine fruit, Christlikeness. And particularly Christlike words: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit” (John 15:16); “they will obey your teaching” (John 15:20); “you also will bear witness” (John 15:27); “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
  • Persecution: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:19-20). This is a characteristic of Christ-centred life that we might not like to think about so much but Jesus is very clear that if we are united with him and speaking of him we will be hated like him. In the light of the events in Garissa recently John 16:2 seems to have come to pass.

 Three particular challenges for us in living a Christ Centred life.

  1. Resentment – The extreme form of unforgiveness. If we cannot say, “as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matt. 6:12) can we claim to be in the Light (1 John 2:9)?
  2. Busyness and Activity – It is possible that you can be active for God (John 16:2!) but he is not at the centre. Let us not be caught up in the activity trap. The Christian life is first and foremost about being and abiding, only secondly about doing and bearing fruit.
  3. Lack of Personal Integrity – Loving one another and Christlikeness does not come naturally – they are completely contrary to our sinful nature – keeping our commitments and on time, chosing to do the right thing consistently even when we have easier and cheaper options.  We are in constant danger of forgetting who we are in Christ and falling back into a world-centred pragmatism.

Conclusion

Our life must have a centre from which we draw our security, guidance and wisdom. When Jesus is the Cornerstone, and his Word the Foundation we know that we will stand firm. It is a good idea to regularly ask yourself if you are still truly Christ Centred, still focused on him, loving him, bearing fruit. But remember: “For each look within, take ten looks at him.” If we are to be Christ centred then our focus is not ourselves and our work but Him and his Work.

 In Him

Joshua Kanyesigye

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