What’s your life about? What makes it tick for you? Go on; be honest with yourself for just a moment. I don’t mean to suggest that you’re intentionally self-deceived. In all probability, you’re not. But functionally we often are. We’re just so busy that we just can’t find the mental space to think self-critically, if at all!
Ask yourself these kinds of questions. Where does your mind go when you daydream? What dominates your ambitions for the future? What dominates your diary in the present? Where do your pour your money and resources? Where’s the focus? And more importantly, where would you like it to go?
I don’t like the answers I get to some of those questions. Are you any different? I know what I should say. I know what I’d like to say. I know what I’m supposed to say. But they’re not the same as the truth! And that’s not great.
In preparing 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, I noticed that the Apostle Paul makes specific mention to Jesus on four separate occasions. And that got me thinking. It’s more than you might expect in three sentences! This is what he says,
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes. To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:1-3 ESV)
In (1) he describes himself as an Apostle of Christ Jesus. In (2) the readers are those sanctified (set apart) in Christ Jesus. Again in (2) the church calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ along with all Christians everywhere. And in (3) Paul wants them to experience grace and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s clear that right at the outset of the letter, Paul wanted Jesus front and centre. He wanted to direct his readers’ attention and ambition away from themselves and their issues to Jesus and his. The problems at Corinth were essentially caused by their preoccupation with themselves. This was a church that neglected Christ and his gospel. They’d taken their eyes off who he is and why he came. And as I condemn them for their stupidity, I inescapably condemn myself because I’m so easily preoccupied with my own life and my own issues. That’s what the answers to those questions revealed. And yet, when push comes to shove, I want my life to be about him. So the question is, how do I do that? The answer surely is contained with these opening words and what they say about him.
- I need to recognise that Jesus is the Lord who speaks to me in the scriptures. The words of the Apostles are His authoritative words. I need to listen intently to what he’s saying to me, not simply the messages I preach to myself.
- I need to recognise that he has sanctified me. He has set me apart to be his special possession. I am his. I am no longer my own. I belong to him. I need to be what I am. Anything else is absurd.
- I need to recognise that in calling on his name, I am dependent on him for everything. I am not a self-made individual living independently in my own strength and a world of my own making. I need him like I need oxygen. The astounding truth of his grace is that he gives me spiritual life even as I fail to acknowledge that he gives it to me.
- I need to recognise that the grace and peace that I know in my life come to me through him. We invariably give ourselves to the things that we most love. And so I will give myself to him as he captures my heart. And what is more likely to win my adoration than to have an existence shaped by his grace and his peace?
If life has got out of kilter i’s probably because I’ve forgotten that life is meant to revolve around Christ. If we shift the centre of gravity away from Christ and his gospel we can expect things to go pear shaped.I don’t want that. But those four things at least will surely keep me grounded.