– Got Questions
Answer: A Christ-centered (or Christocentric) life is one that is focused upon a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the core of every human decision is a motivation. Some people are motivated by the quest for pleasure or money. Some centre their entire lives on a goal, a job, or even their families. These things are not wrong in themselves; however, that which we centre our lives on can become our god.
The human heart was designed for worship, and if it does not worship God, it will worship something else. If we are not Christ-centered, we will be centered on something else. Worship is measured by the amount of time, money, and emotional energy expended. Our gods can be identified by the level of passionate commitment they evoke in us, and, after a while, we begin to resemble them. We talk about them, think about them, dream about them, and scheme to spend more time with them. People who know us best usually know where our deepest passions lie because worship is hard to hide.
Followers of Christ who centre their lives on Him start to become more like Him. They talk about Him, think about Him, dream about Him, and scheme to spend more time with Him. They choose to obey His commands out of love and honour for their Lord, not from fear of being caught in sin. The greatest desire of Christ-centered believers is to please Him and grow to be more like Him. Their lives echo Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.” The chief aim of a Christ-centered life is to glorify God.
But a Christ-centered life is not to be confused with a religion-centered life. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were religion-centered. They ate, drank, and slept the Law. They could spout rules, codes, and judgements as fast as a child can recite the ABC’s, but Jesus had harsh rebuke for them. They were Law-centered but not love-centered, and it made all the difference (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:42). A religion-centered life strives for supremacy, attention, and glory based upon performance. It keeps score and judges itself and others by self-made standards. Christ-centered lives rest in the finished work of Jesus on their behalf and yearn for holiness as a means of staying close to Him (Hebrews 12:14).
The secret to living a Christ-centered life is understanding the “fear of the Lord” (Psalm 19:9; Proverbs 16:6). The fear of the Lord is the continual awareness that our loving Heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, or do. Those who live Christ-centered lives have developed a tangible awareness of the presence of Jesus (Matthew 28:20). They make decisions based upon the question “Would this please the Lord?” They avoid satan’s traps and worldly entanglements because they evaluate their choices: “If Jesus was spending the day with me, would I do that? Watch that? Say that?” (1 Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 6:11). Every lifestyle decision is weighed on Heaven’s scales and evaluated for its eternal significance. Lesser loves fall by the wayside because they steal time, resources, and energy away from the real passion of life – pleasing Jesus. However, living with the fear of the Lord requires a conscious, on-going commitment to it, and even the most devoted will fail at times.
No person has ever lived a perfect life except Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). Even those who deeply desire a Christ-centered life will stumble, fall, sin, and make fleshly decisions in moments of weakness (1 John 1:8–10). But a Christ-centered person cannot endure living in disharmony with God and will quickly confess sin and be restored to fellowship with Him. This process of living in continual harmony with God is called sanctification. It is a lifelong process by which God makes us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 12:14). When we first centre our hearts on Him, our lives quickly follow.
What does it mean “to live is Christ”? – Philippians 1:21
Answer: Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Most people focus on the second part of the verse, “to die is gain,” and contemplate the joys of Heaven. But we should not overlook what comes before. The importance of the phrase “to live is Christ” cannot be overstated. In all honesty, this phrase should be central to every Christian’s life.
In this statement, the Apostle Paul is saying that everything he has tried to be, everything he is, and everything he looked forward to being, pointed to Christ. From the time of Paul’s conversion until his martyrdom, every move he made was aimed at advancing the knowledge, Gospel, and Church of Christ. Paul’s singular aim was to bring glory to Jesus.
“To live is Christ” means that we proclaim the Gospel of Christ. Paul preached in synagogues; he preached at riversides; he preached as a prisoner; he preached as an apostle; he preached as a tentmaker. His message was constant: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” – 1 Corinthians 2:2. He brought the message of Christ’s sacrifice to kings, soldiers, statesmen, priests, philosophers, Jews and Gentiles, men and women. He would preach to literally anyone who would listen.
“To live is Christ” means that we imitate the example of Christ. Everything that Jesus did and said, that’s what Paul wanted to do and say. The Church benefitted from his godly example: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 11:1. What would Jesus do? That’s what we want to do.
“To live is Christ” means that we pursue the knowledge of Christ. We want to know Christ better and better each day. Not just a set of facts about Christ, but Christ Himself. “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” – Philippians 3:10-11.
“To live is Christ” means that we are willing to give up anything that prevents us from having Christ. Paul’s testimony in this regard: “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.” – Philippians 3:7-9. We cling to the promise of our Lord in Mark 10:29-30 that our sacrifices for Jesus’ sake will be repaid a hundredfold.
“To live is Christ” means that Christ is our focus, our goal, and our chief desire. Christ is the centre point of our mind, heart, body, and soul. Everything that we do, we do for Christ’s glory. As we run the “race marked out for us,” we lay aside the entangling sin and worldly distractions, “fixing our eyes on Jesus” – Hebrews 12:1-2. He is our life.
How do I live my life for God?
Answer: God has given us some very clear instructions in His Word as to how we are to live for Him. These include the command to love one another (John 13:34-35), the call to follow Him at the cost of denying our own desires (Matthew 16:24), the exhortation to care for the poor and needy (James 1:27), and the warning to not fall into sinful behaviours like those who don’t know God (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8). Jesus summed up a life lived for God when a teacher of the law asked Him the most important of commandments. Jesus replied, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” – Mark 12:29-31.
Jesus’ prayer prior to His crucifixion also sheds light on our purpose. Referring to believers, He prayed, “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. Father, I want those You have given me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me. I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them” – John 17:22-26. Jesus’ desire is for relationship with us.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” A life lived for God glorifies God. We pursue God with our entire being – heart, soul, mind, and strength. We abide in Christ (John 15:4, 8) and therefore act like Him by loving others. In doing that, we bring glory to His Name and also enjoy the relationship for which we were originally created.
Those who wish to live for God must seek Him in His Word. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives. Living for God means giving up ourselves and desiring God’s Will above all else. As we draw nearer to God and come to know Him more, His desires will more naturally become ours. As we mature, our desire to obey God’s commands increases as our love for Him increases. As Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” – John 14:15.