The Christ-Centered Life (Part 2 of 2)

1. Be ontologically Christ-centered. The Spirit of Christ can be in you (John 1:12; Col. 1:27) – part 1
Now consider another dimension of being “Christ-centered.”
2. Be experientially Christ-centered. The Spirit of Christ can be expressed in and through you.
Being Christ-centered in experience goes beyond one’s state of being regenerated and justified (Rom. 5:1; Titus 3:5). These blessings do not guarantee that we are living according to God’s priorities and power. The revelation and reckoning of our oneness with Christ involves being convicted of the weakness and futility of our living out of “the flesh,” followed by Holy Spirit-enabled steps of faith (Rom. 6:10,11). We are to depend upon Christ as the basis of our new identity and source of dynamic living.
Paul confessed this experiential aspect of Christ-centeredness in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Regrettably, only a minority of us can say like Paul, “For me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
So, being “Christ-centered” is not only an ontological statement (“Christ is in me”), but a functional commitment (“for me, to live is Christ”).
This being the case, what are the conditions of experiencing Christ-centered living in our soul and behavior? Although the full answer is contained throughout the New Testament, two responses are fundamental:
  • yielding to God, and
  • trusting in Christ’s indwelling life.
The life Christ lives through His people today has these same qualities that He demonstrated during His earthly ministry.[2]
Let’s take a closer look at these conditions of being experientially Christ-centered.
A. Yielding
The Lord Jesus always yielded to the Father. He was totally, consistently, and perfectly in harmony with the Father’s will. Jesus testified,
  • “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”
  • “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 8:29; 4:34).
So, it shouldn’t surprise us that Christ-centered living is not just a doctrine or theory to enhance our self-fulfillment; it is the God-designed way of living.
We are summoned today to this same quality of surrender: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1, 2).
Yielding to God’s good will flows from this wholehearted commitment, but is ratified daily: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me'” (Luke 9:23). Therefore, functional Christ-centered living is impossible if self-will is reigning in your life.
B. Trusting
The second basic condition for being rightly centered is faith. As the Son of Man, Christ also modeled faith in the enabling of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16; 12:28; Luke 4:18; John 3:34). Likewise, trust in Christ to live His life in and through you. Remember again Paul’s testimony: “… and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” [3]
The step of “reckoning,” prescribed in Romans 6:10,11, is personally to believe in your identification with Christ. The old you in Adam was crucified and buried with Christ; the new you, joined to Christ’s eternal life, is raised with Him and even enthroned with Him! (Eph. 2:4-7; Col. 3:1-4).
Just as yielding is an initial and daily process, so faith is an appropriation step as well as choice of daily dependence. This relationship is pictured in the vine and branches passage (John 15:1-8). Since the branch is organically united with the vine, the branch depends on the life of the vine to produce the fruit. Jesus declared, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Back in the 1800’s Mary E. Maxwell expressed Christ-centered living through her poem, “Channels Only”:
“How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.
Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.
Witnessing Thy power to save me,
Setting free from self and sin;
Thou who boughtest to possess me,
In Thy fullness, Lord, come in.
Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner self may flow.
Channels only, blessed Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.”[4]
Friend, have you been reconciled to God? Do you appreciate the mystery of “Christ in you”?
How have you been experiencing the Christian life? Only one person can really live this Life–Christ Himself. And Christ will live this life in and though you as you become centered in Him.

[2] For further study on this theme, see GN, “How Did Jesus Do What He Did?” An definitive book-length study on this theme is The Mystery of Godliness, byIan Thomas.
[3] Should Galatians 2:20 be translated “faith of the Son of God” (KJV) or faith in the Son of God (NKJV, ESV)? The Greek form of the noun is genitive case and sometimes has a subjective meaning (the love of Christ = Christ’s love, Rom. 8:35). In other instances it has an objective use (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit = blaspheming the Holy Spirit, Matt. 12:31). In Galatians 2:20 it seems that it can be either…or both. This is called the plenary use of the genitive case “indicating both Subjective and Objective Genitives simultaneously. This is a case in which a writer can use an intentional ambiguity to convey a deeper meaning” (as in Rev. 1:1; 2 Cor. 5:14).
[4] Published as a hymn.
For more on this theme, see newly published book, The Worthy Walk, by Woodward & Miller.
Copyright by John B. Woodward in 2010. Permission is granted to reprint (with credit given) for non-commercial use. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
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