Recently I have been saddened by the “me-centered”, so-called Christian messages out there. In Eastern Europe, many people have been duped into investing, and then losing, large sums of money by believing they would become millionaires if only they would invest in so-called Christian schemes. Then there is the teaching that God is all about making your dreams come true. Follow God, and you will be fulfilled – yes, you will, but not usually according to your wishes and desires. Often there are sacrifices that lead you to grow in your understanding and relationship to God, leading to even greater fulfillment and dreams that do not revolve around you.
Error #1: It’s all about me
I like mini Coopers. In our neighborhood in the center of Kiev there are four of them and when I go for a run, I pass all of “my” mini Coopers and admire them. One Saturday morning I returned home from my run and mentioned to my daughter with her friends present that one of my mini Coopers was dented. My daughter, Abbi, said to her friends “She’s just imagining it. I mean, they are really there, but they are not hers.” I had an immediate flash-forward to me at age 85 sitting in a nursing home and Abbi trying to convince the nurse that I do not belong in the dementia ward. I had, in fact, lived in Ukraine, New York and the Philippines, and yes, my stories were true. If life orbited around me, if life orbited around you, there would not be enough material possessions to satisfy. Our souls tend towards addiction and cannot be fulfilled by focusing on our desires. It is a trap that will hurt ourselves and others and keep us from all that God has for us. And sooner or later, we do grow old and leave this world, leaving our material possessions behind.
Pitfall: If you look to God as a formula for your personal blessing and happiness, then when things don’t turn out as you expected, you may bail out of relationships and turn away from God.
Error #2: It’s all about this life
Then there is the “save the world by our own efforts and goodness” approach. It sounds like this: let’s create programs to help people and do what we can to bring about a world of peace and harmony, but let’s leave out the offensive parts of the Bible, such as heaven and hell and sin. People don’t really need to hear that kind of teaching, it would just turn them away . . . or turn them to the God who loves them and offers salvation and new life.
Pitfall: You may end up lost and leading others astray with no life-giving, redeeming message at all.
The Christ-Centered Life
When our lives are God-centered through faith in Jesus Christ, we are freed from our small, sinful, out of synch worlds and brought into the fullness of His love and purposes, uniting us in healthy, vibrant relationships with others. And with the assurance of life after death in heaven for all eternity.
Any other message disappoints.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”