I wish to live a Jesus-centered life. That’s what I feel we are all called to do, to position Jesus in our centre. At the forefront of our choices, our habits, our friendships, our intellect, our creativity, even our exercising – I like to make it all about God.
Placing Jesus in the centre of my soul – and in the middle of my daily activities – is the only thing that makes any sense, for me. It is what makes me whole and vibrant.
This takes practice. Actually, it can be a spiritual practice, in and of itself. Just like writing for my blog has become a spiritual practice for me. Because I am doing it for God, to be a friend to Him.
At last, I am finding the words to express that niggling idea sitting at the edge of my discernment with regard to a long-standing desire to join a local church. Having been disappointed in that regard over the years, I resist. I play it safe as I audition potential churches. I come close, then back away. Some have inadvertantly pushed me away by expressing their “right to meet” during lockdown. hmmm.. I am inclined to view public gatherings of any kind as a privilege rather than a right when there is potential health risk to others. But that’s just me.
While social distancing over the past two years has kept my efforts motoring in the background, my eye is always searching, still hopeful.
This past week, serendipity led me to a Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who was very active in the UK’s evangelical movement until his death in 1981. He was one powerful preacher and influencer, having served as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 30 years. Thankfully, most of his sermons are freely availabble online from the MLJ-Trust for our listening pleasure. I am finding his narrative exposition on church revival both illuminating and engaging.
MLJ, as he is known, helped me to finally figure out what colour are my religious leanings. I am born-again through the Holy Spirit, yes, but there is quite a range of ‘colours’ within than first cut. Lloyd-Jones helped me to better understand what it is that attracts me to some preachers, and push me away from others (especially from the yellers because I don’t like being yelled at).
It’s not really about charisma, or enthusiasm, or leadership skills, or keeping a sermon short, or their large online presence, or the size of their congregation (although for me, smaller is better). In the end, I think it’s about humility. It’s about keeping the spotlight on God, where it must be. It’s about being and acting as an instrument of God, letting God’s Spirit work within that preacher to reach listeners in their hearts. Certainly, it’s about praying for this to happen through their message.
That preacher is centered on the Gospel (the story of Jesus and salvation). He/she understands that only Jesus can fill us with deep contentment and hope. He/she understands that Holy Spirit is just as active today as he was in Biblical times. That Jesus not only saved humanity from itself, but that He continues to do so. He continues to intervene on our behalf. And He keeps on saving us from ourselves, and from darkness, from evil’s pull.
Salvation is an ongoing, maturing thing, not a one-time event. Closely related in my mind, is sanctification, which is the process of developing ourselves through growing closer the God, closer to His image. We are helped in this growth process by Holy Spirit’s guidance, and in our response to that guidance. As our trust deepens, we gently open our hearts and minds to His power over and within us. And we begin to morph into the beautiful creature that God created, into His original intent and desire for us. It is a beautiful thing.
When I join a group for worship, I want it to be about that. About giving God all the glory and all the credit for our transformation. It doesn’t need to be loud and filled with music and activity and ceremony. Not for me. But it does need to be sincere, heart-felt, God-centered, and focussed on serving others.
When Jesus walked the earth, he was all about serving others while giving God all the glory. He was clear about where his power came from. It’s what he taught his disciples.
It’s what I try to do because I, too, am a disciple of Jesus. And my greatest desire is to support others in their faith. I want to be one of those Jesus-centered preachers who inspires others to see that Jesus is still very much alive today, within us and around us. Only, he doesn’t go where he is not invited.
You only need to invite him in, with all your heart.
God’s peace to you, dear reader,