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Monday, August 31, 2015

Christ is Not the Center of My Life.

In this moment, I couldn't love Jesus more. He is amazing, He's my hero. I love Him, and can hardly wait to be with Him in Heavenly bliss forever.
The prophet Tobit, blind and
praying for his own destruction.

 But He's not the center of my life.

Yeah, I can practically hear the record scratch, see jaws drop, and little old men are all going blind at the sheer unquestionable blasphemy of those abominable words that I just typed across this page. The Hellfire is licking at the corners of all of our screens, now that I've said it. That is, if you haven't punched those screens out from righteous zeal and indigence. How can I dare to claim to love Christ if he's not the center of my life?! Isn't that the tagline for this blog? To "point back to God with a Christ-centered life?"

Specifically, it's "A chronicle of my daily attempts to point back to God with a Christ-centered life." For now, at least. I might modify the phrasing if I think of something easier to get your mouth around, but that's the deal with this blog. Loving God, pointing Christ-wards, and doing it with my daily life. But then there's those words, "chronicle," and "attempt," which I feel are also important.

A chronicle is a factual, historical account, and lets be honest, have I always turned my face and my heart to God perfectly? No. Will I? I hope so, but I'm not there yet. The plain fact is, I love so many things, and I'm capricious as a saytr. Sometimes, those things seem or feel or look so good that I forget, or even refuse to think about, how good God truly is. I don't mean, merely, that there are moments when God isn't on my mind; I mean that there are moments, most days, when I choose to orient my will towards the immediate and pleasurable, or convenient, over His will for me.

"The Ten Commandments" by Bruce Eagle
Sometimes, its by smaller ways, like using unkind speech when I know He wills me be loving. Sometimes, I find myself pretending I didn't just ditch God for the golden calf. Even though I know, by doing or accepting or ignoring things when I'm aware it means defying His Kingship over my heart, I'm still doing the whole idolatry she-bang. As long as I make these choices, as long as I overlook Jesus here and there, I'm denying Christ as my center and my goal. He's "Jesus: slightly left-of-the-center of my life," or "Jesus who is my only love and focus as long as I don't hate what some grumpy stranger cussed at me, more." And that's not enough for Him. Its not even enough for me.

A couple days ago, the need to explain this to someone arose. I  tried to, but I got it all fudged up in my head. She'd shocked me, and perhaps many others around us, by suddenly confessing her past issues with sex, drugs, alcohol, drunk driving, and the law. She was half-boasting, half remorseful, and targeted it at me, the 'Christian.' "I'm going to Hell," she added with a smile. I'd known about her past, but from private confidence. Out in the open, I fumbled, this was a professional setting, and she'd always seemed very professional. This deceleration that she was hell-bound came like a left hook.

I tried to explain forgiveness and mercy. "You're clean, that's the past!"And I'd added, for good measure, that it was quite a feat for anyone to come so far, and that she would be forgiven by God if she asked. Her response was to turn it up a notch, and pour out her current iniquities as well. Those were 'impossible' to give up. I knew what to say, but not how to say it, but an agnostic in the group (or so he'd led me to believe,) came to the rescue, assuring her that it's never to late to change: we can always find our way back to God.

The need to turn our hearts to God kept surfacing, and the difficulty of turning away from things always swatted back. I let them duke it out, her fighting and him reassuring, with only gently nudging comments from myself. All day today I kept thinking back, and decided a large issue was she misunderstood Hell and Heaven. She thought she deserved to be punished! But where you go when you get to the next life isn't a matter of punishment and reward, not wholly, but a matter of love. We aren't condemned by this Almighty Judge, so much as the curtain on our motives is peeled back. God aches after us, but doesn't force Himself on us. He gives us instead what we truly love most, and sometimes, that isn't Him.

We have to love God, I'd thought, and it has to be our biggest love. Yeah. That's the hard part about this piece. Sin is always a refusal to give our hearts to God, but we lie about it, and say, "I love God, but loneliness is despairing, withdrawal hurts, temptation's a bitch, and change is painful." We justify our failures by how difficult it is to embrace His will in those areas. But what we're really saying is, "I don't love God quite so much as my need to simply not hurt." And that's not enough. "I just fell because it's hard." No, I fall because Christ means less to me, or I believed for a moment that he did, than whatever is difficult in the now.

Why would I have miserly held to my grudges? Because a sense of woundedness from some encounter was deeper than my Love of God. If I loved God and his admonishment to forgive ran deeper than my pride and my sense of victim-hood, I'd have cast them aside like pennies for a fountain.

It's not easy, and we can't force it. Sometimes, we need faith to overcome our desire for the things that would foil us, because we can't always love enough. But every temptation, every fear, every stumbling block in our path is a chance to admit this, humbly, to Jesus. To say, "Christ, I love You, this is such a heavy cross. Give me the love and strength I don't have to remember that You are enough." If you let Him fill you and cling, by faith, when desiring Him seems hard, He'll bless you with greater love, greater faith, and greater zeal. After that, you'll be lugging out a catapult to fling habitual sin to the winds. You don't need copper pennies when you partake in a love as rich as Heaven's Love!
"The Miracle of Manna" by Jacopo Tintoretto
I have so much ardor for God, but never enough. Thankfully, He is ever teaching me to adore Him more. My life is full of God-enamored moments, like today, in which I'm graced with the faithfulness he requires of me, and that I so much want to give. I'm praying these moments can spread like wildfire, and set ablaze my whole self for Him! Jesus is still very much courting my heart, and though I'm fickle, I'm falling in love.

For now, Charlie Hall and Matt Redman's song is my song and prayer: "Christ, be the center of my life, be the place I fix my eyes," and never let me turn away from You.

In the now, I chronicle my attempts to love, and to make adoration my life. Expect a blog full of God-moments and of re-orienting when disoriented.

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