My topic today is on the centrality of Christ. I think very often, we spend a lot of time discussing rules, deeper theology, and principles of Scripture in the church, not that this is wrong. However, what this often results in is a lack of emphasis on the gospel of Jesus Christ, the story of His life, death, resurrection, and redemptive plan, because "we've already heard that."
Much of this is the result of our American emphasis on practicality. We want the practical rules from Scripture, something like a list of do's and don't's to follow. We want a list of practical rules from Scripture, not the rehearsal of the gospel, again! But do we see a problem here?
Christianity is about the gospel. The Old Testament points forward to Christ, the New Testament is about Christ, and Revelation points forward to Christ in the future. Even the lists of moral do's and don't's are there to promote our relationship with Christ. If we attempt to follow rules, without a relationship with Christ, without a constant rehearsal in our hearts of what Jesus did for us, we are focusing on the wrong thing.
A simple list of practical rules is not what makes Christianity wonderful. No one finds amazing peace and rest in a list of rules. Rules, by themselves, simply enslave. Rules, with a relationship with Christ, help build our relationship with Him further, and help show our love for Him.
Let's compare the two ideas. If we spend the majority of our time at church discussing rules, what is the emphasis? It's on me. It's on what I can do, what I should do, what I have or haven't done. When we focus on my actions, on what I should or shouldn't do, we make the mistake of focusing on the wrong topic. We're coming together to church on Sunday to do what? Talk about ourselves?
However, if our emphasis is on the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are constantly reminded of His death and resurrection. We are consistently reintroduced to the gospel, and I believe this will further our relationship with Christ. A fascination with Jesus Christ will result in following rules, but this time for the right reason, a love for Jesus.
I've spent the majority of the time today speaking about the church, but the same is true of your personal life, and your personal devotions. If you live your life focused on rules, you lose enthusiasm. If some of us young people were to spend our whole lives in our parent's home just trying to obey all the rules, and not bothering to ever talk to Mom and Dad, we would wind up being very well-behaved kids with terrible relationship. The same is true of Christians. If we spend our whole time with God, whether it's at church or devotions, thinking about things I need to do, even if their good things, you're robbing God of the time you think you set aside for Him. You may be an excellently behaved Christian, but without a relationship, it's all in vain.
So, for application, think about your relationship with Christ. Stop thinking about rules to be followed sometimes, and just spend some time with Jesus. Just talk to Him, and listen. Build a relationship, and the rules will follow.