Living Christ-Centered

Please open your copy of God’s word and turn to Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50. Allow me to ask two simple questions. The first: when we attend a church service with our brothers and sisters in Christ, do we expect God to touch our lives? The second: when we are living out our lives on an everyday basis, do we expect God to live our lives with us? The very nature of our relationship with God and our service to God depends on how we answer these two questions. Please read with me:

One of the Pharisees asked Him (Jesus) to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and took His place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred danarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larder debt.” And He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” – Luke 7:36-50 ESV

Jesus went to this Pharisee’s house because the Pharisee invited Him. Then, after Jesus is reclined at the Pharisee’s table, a woman who lived a sinful life in that town found Him and began to wash His feet with her tears. After weeping over Jesus’ feet, she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.

The very first thing we see in this account is that, while the Pharisee expected Jesus to come to Him, the sinful woman used her time and energy to go to Jesus. Too many times I think we are also guilty of expecting Jesus to come and meet with us, when, in all reality, we should be using our time and energy to seek Him out and to serve Him. I often think about the problems within this world. One of the greatest problems we have, as human beings, is self-centeredness. Another way to describe it would be pride. We expect God to be on our side, when in reality it is us who need to choose to be on God’s side. We read scripture with the intent to support the beliefs we already have when we need to read scripture and allow God to test our beliefs through our reading of scripture. Yes, that means that even Christians are sometimes wrong in what they believe. It amazes me that in order to have a relationship with God, we must admit that we are wrong. Yet, after we have that relationship we think that we are right about everything. This life is not about us.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred danarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larder debt.” And He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”      (vv.39-43)

Because this Pharisee was so self-centered, he claimed to know what a “prophet” should and would act like, and expected that anyone who claimed to be a prophet should fit the mold. This is the trap of religion. We begin to expect certain things from certain people. We expect people to sing the same type of music that we sing when worshipping. We expect others to pray the same way in which we pray. We expect others to act the way we act. If they choose to be different, then they are somehow unholy. This dos not mean that it is acceptable for people to live in sin, but it is acceptable for them to act in some way other than what we expect from them.

As a parallel to the same perspective, sometimes we are guilty of expecting God to be a certain way; to reveal Himself in a certain way or to answer prayer in a certain manner. When God does not meet the expectations we have of Him, we tend to think that He doesn’t care, that He is distant, of that He somehow does not exist. In expecting things from God, we place ourselves at the center of our relationship with God. Churches in America, on a large scale, expect God to move because they have a great stage and sound system or because they put forth a great performance and worship service. People expect God to move because they have a charismatic preacher who never stumbles over his own words. People expect God to move within the time that we have allotted for church services. Let me ask you something. If God chose to move toward the end of a meeting, whether it be Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, or any other day and time, would you be anxious to leave or to be dismissed; or would you be excited about the work that God is about to do? God does not operate on our time or according to our ways! We are to operate on His time and according to His ways! It is amazing that that people outside the Church claim that we have crafted a god in our own image. When we expect God to be a certain way, it is almost as if we are trying to do just that.

Jesus begins to tell this story about how two men owed money to a moneylender. One man’s debt was much greater than the other’s, but since neither could pay back his debt, both were forgiven. Who loved the moneylender more? The one who was forgiven the greater debt.

Most of us are familiar with the idea that all sin equally separates us from a holy God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So, when God forgives, He forgives all equally: 100 percent. The difference between the two men in Jesus’ story was not a difference provided by the moneylender, but by the perception of the two individuals.

Look at it this way. The very moment we were born, because we were born into a world that is corrupted (it is not the way in which God created it), we took out a loan from God called life. One day, God will collect the debt that we owe. Because of our separation from God, we owe God our lives. Because we cannot live eternally with God and be spiritually dead, God chose to forgive our debt. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay that debt for us. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, begotten by the Holy Spirit of God, lived a perfect life, and was put to death to satisfy a debt to God that I owed. But because Jesus was perfect, never doing wrong according to God, He rose back to life on the third day and is now preparing a place for all those who trust in Him. Jesus Christ paid 100 percent of the debt for both the religious leader and prostitute, for both the preacher and the woman who had an abortion, for both the saint and the sinner. There is nothing we have done that can possibly keep us from the forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers. How do we accept that offer? We admit that we are living wrong, simply by not relying on God. We ask God to forgive us for our wrong lifestyle. We ask Jesus Christ to be the boss of our lives; not to just simply walk beside us, but to lead us.

Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven- for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (vv. 44-50)

Again, we are seeing the difference between the Pharisee, or the self centered religious person, and the sinful woman, or the Christ centered individual. The first difference, as previously stated, is that the self-centered religious person expected Christ to meet with him while the “sinner” used her time and energy to find Christ and be with Him. The second, also previously stated, is that the self-centered religious leader expected Christ to act a certain way while the “sinner” only wanted to please Christ. Here we see that the self centered individual wanted Christ to serve him, adore him and provide for him while the sinner wished only to serve Christ, adore Christ, and give offering to Christ.

We do not want to be guilty of putting our faith in ourselves and calling on Christ’s name only hoping that He rides along with us. We want to put our faith in Christ regardless of how He might choose to work. No matter how He chooses to work, we must be willing to follow Him in that work.

So, when we attend church service with our brothers and sisters, do we expect God to touch our lives? My hope is that we attend church as an offering to God, regardless of how He chooses to work, who He works through, or how much time He chooses to use. When we live our lives on a day-by-day basis, do we expect God to live our lives with us? My hope is that we lives our lives day-by-day according to how God wants us to live our lives, not according to the plans we have made for ourselves.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV).

God is the center of our lives, or should be. Seek Him. Adore Him. Serve Him. He already gave us the greatest gift that He possibly could: Himself.

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