The Good Doctrine of Christ at the Center
Is Jesus important?
Many today will consider Buddha, Moses, Socrates, and Muhammad and Jesus as important historical people.
For most people in our nation, this group shares an equal level of historical importance.
Jesus, in this viewpoint, is important.
However, is Jesus…central?
Now, I asked you if Jesus is important, and most responded that He is—but now I ask you this—In your life, is Jesus central?
Oh, you might agree on a religious level, or a theological level, that Jesus’ greatness is unsurpassable, His sacrifice for our sins and our redemption so wonderful…but I ask you, is Jesus preeminent in your life?
Does Jesus hold first place in everything in your life?
Is Jesus before all other things in your life?
This text tells us that Jesus is central whether we agree or not, whether see it this way or not; Jesus is before all things, and in Him all things consist and Jesus is the center.
You see, this letter was originally written to a small church that was struggling with this issue: Is Jesus central? Is Jesus, my center?
Or is it, Jesus plus something else or Jesus plus other things…or is it Jesus, and…?
The city of Colossae was an insignificant town overshadowed by the glamour and wealth of the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Heir-apolis.
Colossae was a minority town, and perhaps this affected the church’s mindset when they heard or saw the grandiose ministry of the other cities’ churches.
We know from the Book of Revelation (chapter 3) that the church at Laodicea became a real braggadocios church, with lots of pomp and noise—but Jesus tells that church that although they thought they were wealthy, spiritual and accomplishing much, in actuality they were naked, blind, poor and lukewarm puke in His sight and He wanted to vomit them out.
Did the Colossians feel inferior to that city and to that church and think that they had a minority faith, and therefore needed to add something to it?
This is the backdrop of this letter. And I find it to be very relevant to our times.
We find in the contents of this letter that this church was letting other stuff get equal billing with Jesus. There were inadequate teachings starting to seep its doctrine and its practice. They were losing the Center, which is Christ alone.
So the Apostle wrote them to show them that Jesus is the center, and Jesus has all that we need for salvation, and all that we need to grow and live spiritually in God as a local church, and as a people.
And that is something we all need to consider as we see America creeping into our worship today, and too often its “stuff” getting equal billing with Jesus, whether that is in our personal lives, or in our corporate worship.
Is Jesus my center?
Is Jesus central in this church?
Are we rooted in the good doctrine of Jesus at the center?
Perhaps we too, think, like the Colossians, that we need to compromise and add something more to our faith. Today, it’s easy to start compromising with the fallen powers of America’s culture, its lust of consumerism, its attractive commercialism—in order to generate a faith that looks cooler and its message is much more palatable, but it ends up lacking in true biblical substance—just so we can survive and compete in the church growth game of our times—proving ourselves to be alive and spiritually great because our attendance is great, or our church is well-liked—all of these things have nothing to do with the biblical thermostat of a church’s true life within, and the true meaning and true purpose of a true church.
But then maybe on a personal level its your desire for wealth, or your lust for more stuff that puts Jesus on the edges of your life, and puts His church on the outskirts of your priorities.
Any of these things can cause even dedicated Christians to lose Jesus at the center of it all, whether personally, or as a church.
Look at “…in all things He may have the preeminence.”
Does He have first place for us? Is Jesus central?
When Jesus is not central, the faith is more susceptible to being misunderstood, mangled, or ignored—and we are more likely to water down the Gospel, and we are more willing to be as worldly as possible while passing off that we are spiritual.
I want to preach 3 plain exhortations in this first message over these verses that will challenge the attitude or a behavior that can keep us from seeing and savoring Jesus at the center of our life.
1. Watch Out for Self-Centeredness.
We are talking about Jesus-centeredness, well, we need to be careful of Self-centeredness.
Seeing self first will always keep us from seeing Jesus first.
For most of us, we need a Copernican shift to happen, more times than once in life.
What’s a Copernican Shift?
Nicolas Copernicus was a mathematician and an astronomer in the 1500’s who told the people in his times that earth was not the center of the universe. He showed them that the Sun was at the center, and that we were revolving around it in what appears to be a not so special location.
People didn’t like that at all. It was tough to swallow. But eventually, a Copernican shift happened when the proof was plain to see.
But, Imagine it: The earth shifting out from orbit and trying to take the place of our sun this morning, or trying to find the center of the universe and filling that spot and declaring “it is ours.” What would happen?
It would be madness and highly destructive.
And so, what about when we try to be the center in life?
I am so thankful that the earth is the third rock from the sun, because I see it as message from God in His creation. It is the glory of God in the heavens telling us that we are not the center of anything—our planet is not the center, and our lives are not the center either.
God and His Son are the center.
But today, we see this subtle man-centric view in our world and even in our churches. We see this man-centeredness in our worship more and more as time goes by.
We sing a lot about God loving us, and we like that in a culture of self-esteem, but what has subtly happened is that many people love God only because they have been told that He loves us—(therefore) even our love for God is actually self-centered.
“I love God, because God loves me.”
Do you see that?
Think about it right now, Do you love God…only because God loves you?
Is that why you and I love God?
Is your love for God really about you, and you don’t even know it, until now?
American culture did that to you and me; it has snuck its way into our theology today.
Or, do you love God because you are entranced and in awe of God, and your desire for Him is because of God Himself, not because God desires you?
God does love you and me, but that is because God is love, not because of anything we are, and we ought to see Jesus at the center because of Who He is, not because of what we are.
But today we have a subtle man-centered faith. It is an MTD faith in America. (explain)
2. Stop playing the Victim of Time.
Jesus is out on the edges of our thoughts and Jesus’ church and work is on the last line of the list of our priorities because we don’t have time for Jesus.
You know its true, and I do it too—“I don’t have time. I have to do this, and this, and this.”
You know what?
Something has to go then, and why don’t you and I get some courage and humility and let it go? Enough already.
Parents, your kids don’t have to be involved in every single thing under the sun. Dad, you don’t have to get that last account or sale—why don’t you go home, or get to the prayer meeting. Families, you don’t have to miss Sunday worship for some time together if you simply stopped robbing your family of its time during the week, so stop robbing God when Sunday comes around.
Each time I do a funeral and I go into the cemetery I always think about those headstones and the people buried beneath them. Number one, I don’t see any u-hauls or storage facilities near those grave sites, nor do I ever see any u-hauls trailing behind hearses at the funeral.
Number 2, I always think, what did these people simply waste their energy, thoughts and anxieties on while they were alive that they would say now was a total joke? What would they do differently now if they could?
It is in our power now to “make time” with God and for God, not try to find the time.
We say, “I can’t find the time,” and you are right. You and I won’t ever find the time in this culture’s constant push for more and more and more and more; we must get vigilant and start “making the time.” Because that is the only way we are going to be able to redeem the time we have for the glory of God.
What if time could become a person, what would your time say to you? Would it be friendly? Would it laugh at you? Would it pity you? Would it say to you that its your fault actually, and not his?
Time should not be our enemy. Time should not be a hostile place for us that we must run from or stuff away or ignore, or wish we could get back.
Time was created to be meeting point where we can have a rendezvous with God.
But we must make the time to pursue Christ, and be devoted to Him.
This world isn’t going to let up, and this world is not going to let go of you, it wants to swallow you and me up with its desires and lusts and keep our attention away from God, and it fills up our time with either noise, distraction or broken desire.
We cannot let it, as followers of Jesus now in this 21st Century.
We must accept responsibility for how we use our time.
And we need to stop regarding ourselves as victims of time and start re-establishing our priorities and reducing what should not be at the center of our life, especially if we are going to claim that we believe and follow Jesus.
3. Don’t Pattern Yourself After the World.
God tells us in more than one place in Scripture to “come out from the world-system,” and be separate from it in how we live, in how we think, in how we act and to what we aspire to live for, and God calls us to mature spiritually in the fear of God, and to grow in personal holiness, both in body and in spirit.
Those who follow Christ are called to a very different way of life than the world-system.
Why does this message seem to be so unique and unheard today?
Why are we Christians so disobedient to God in this very plain command and high calling in the Revealed Word?
If we follow Jesus, we are different, because our Center is different.
But is this true of us?
This fallen culture and God’s revealed will in His Word have different aims for us. Why won’t we listen?
Culture is concerned with affluence, appearances, and ability.
God is concerned with faithfulness, holiness, and humility.
Culture is concerned with what produces best for increase and wealth: this is called consumerism.
God is concerned with what influences most for glory: this is called character.
Culture is concerned with conforming us to its passing ways.
God is concerned with transforming us to the ways of Christ.
There is a great difference between the world and us. But is that what we see today in the church?
When Jesus is truly the center of our life and of our faith, we desire nothing that this passing world affirms or says we should be.
We simplify to be near Him more, we change our patterns and ways according to the Word so we can please Him more, and we surrender ourselves fully so that He can use us more in His church and for the kingdom.
We come out of the world’s ways and stop behaving like it and we let our attitudes and priorities get reshaped when Jesus becomes central in our life.
We repent, and we look to Him, and we desire to know Him more, because knowing Him is true eternal life.
We begin to ask, and live out in our very being, what the Psalmist expressed in Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”
If Jesus is at the center, nothing else can live in that place.
Jesus’ light, His love, His lavish truth that He gives us, and the Truth that He is, burns away, smashes down, and exposes totally— anything that tries to take that place.
When Jesus is truly at the center, culture is a boring, flat, uninspiring and dreary place because when it is compared in our vision to the glory and Person of Jesus Christ our Lord, we see that is a passing world that offers dead ends and wasted living.
Is Jesus important to me?
Most of us said yes.
But, Is Jesus Central in my life?
That is something we must all stand and account for for ourselves today.